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Bible Doctrine

Have you noticed how the word “doctrine” is unpopular in some circles?

Yet the Protestant Reformers staked their lives on the discovery and implementation of Bible truths.

Doctrines reveal our conception of the character of God, and the kind of Person He is. While the Scriptures say, “Let each be fully convinced in his own mind” Rom 14:5 – we are to be convinced!

Let’s discuss Bible thoughts respectfully, but with a desire to arrive at truth! John 17:17

Bible Study Thoughts - earth

A Biblical Definition of the Gospel:

Bible Study ThoughtsIf you wanted to use your Bible to explain to someone what the gospel is – where would you look? Probably the most quoted verse in Scripture is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

As beautiful and as full of meaning as that verse is – that’s not the Scripture I would turn to. Although a good case can be made that it does teach the gospel. And I’d probably agree with that. In fact, there are many texts which could be used – because the Bible has plenty of good news! But there’s one Scripture which is my favorite when it comes to describing (and understanding) the gospel. And it’s one I love to think about. It’s Romans 1:16

Romans 1:16 comes right out and says, “this is the gospel” Let’s look at it together, and then dissect it. It says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes …”

Interesting. In this passage Paul is saying so many things – which we’ll break down in a second. For now though notice this text is definitely claiming to define what the gospel is. Would you agree with that? Paul says he’s not ashamed of the gospel. And then he tells us what it is. He says, “for it is the power of God unto salvation.” Is that how you would explain the gospel? Would you define it as “the power of God”? What is Paul telling us here?

 

The Power of God

Bible Study ThoughtsWhat is power?

What do you think of, when you think of ‘power’? Do you think of military might? Do you think of superior strength, or control? A lot of it depends on context, doesn’t it? It certainly does in the examples I just gave. Yet in the definition I like there’s a common denominator which applies no matter how it’s being used, and no matter what the context is. And that’s this:

Power is the ability to produce an effect.

Think about that for a moment. All power results in being able to produce the outcome you want, regardless of the situation. That is power, isn’t it? Having the ability to acquire or produce what you want means you have power over it. You have the ability to make it happen.

Now, applying this definition to our text we could paraphrase the text so far to be saying the gospel is “the ability of God to produce an effect”.

The ability to produce an effect. Hmmm.

So what effect is the gospel producing?

It says, “unto salvation.” Which means so far that the “gospel”, is the GOOD NEWS that God has the ability to produce salvation. Our next logical question would be to ask -

 

What is “Salvation?”

Bible Study Thoughts - At the CrossOne of the clearest definitions of salvation I’ve ever heard is “being set free from the power and penalty of sin.”

What a promise! I like that, don’t you? Can you imagine not only being set free from the penalty of sin – but also from it’s power over us? Amazing, isn’t it?

And for any who might be thinking they can never be free from sins power over them I would remind them of who the verse says has the power … God!

That’s the good news. That it’s not our power – it’s God’s!

The difficulty any Christian has in living a victorious Christian life is when they’re trying to supply the power (ability) through their own efforts. Although there’s a lot I could say about that – think of it like this – if you did have the ability to produce a sinless life using your own power then you wouldn’t need a Savior. But if you’re a Christian you became one because you recognized somewhere along the line that you were a sinner who needed saving. And that saving comes to us as a gift. It has to, if we are to have it, because we could never earn it through our own works.

Who does the Bible say is set free from sin’s penalty and power?

Everyone who believes!

Wow. The good news keeps getting better and better.

 

How to Make the Gospel Real

Would you like to know a way you can experience more of God’s power in your life? Let’s start by looking at our “gospel text” one more time, completely paraphrased with our new understanding:

Paul says, essentially, “I am not ashamed of the good news of Jesus Christ! For it is the ability of God to set me free from the power and the penalty of sin, if and when I believe.”

Isn’t that encouraging?

Faith is like a muscle, the more we use it, the stronger it gets.

So if the gospel is God’s power put forth to save man, and if it produces freedom in everyone who believes, it stands to reason that the greater faith a person has, the more they will experience the power of the gospel.

Isn’t that true?

That means that one of the keys is to have greater faith.

 

Faith in the Power of God

As our heavenly Father, nothing pleases God more than to have His children come to Him in faith. Meaning God loves it when we trust Him and believe His Word! Do you realize whenever we doubt Him, we’re saying we don’t trust Him to do what He says He’ll do?

How much would it help if, when we felt weak, we took our focus off ourselves and shifted it onto a new focus – a focus on God’s ability to do what He says?

If we wanted to have more faith in the power of God – where would we look? i.e., Where in all the world do we see the greatest evidence of God’s power (i.e., His ability)?

In creation! What God has created displays His power – day after day, and night after night.

Bible Study Thoughts - God's GloryPsalm 19:1 says “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork.”

Who hasn’t looked up at a sky full of stars, and marveled at the strength and wisdom of the One who put them there?

The text goes on to say, “Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. Their is no speech or language where their voice isn’t heard!” Ps. 19:2

What David is telling us here is that “day unto day (the heavens) utter speech” – in other words the heavens speak to us – of God’s glory, wisdom and power. And “night unto night reveals knowledge” – again of the wisdom and power of a God who could create such an amazing display of glory as that which we see in the heavens.

And this is universal speech and knowledge! It says, “There is no speech or language where their voice isn’t heard.”

Now get this … using this passage, Paul reasons in Romans 10:14-18 that through the heavens the gospel had been preached to the Jews (connect vs. 15,17 & 18)!

Therefore, going right along with my premise that our faith grows as we observe the power of God in His creation, (and as we contemplate His great handiwork), Paul says that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” vs. 17.

But look what word of God he’s talking about … he makes that statement right in the middle of his reasoning that the gospel is being preached by the heavens!

 

Connect Your Need to God’s Power

So here is the sum of the matter …

If God is faithful and true, that means He will keep His promises to us.

In Scripture God has promised to completely save us from the penalty and power of sin – in Christ. That’s the gospel, or good news.

If we’re NOT experiencing victory over sin in our lives it can mean only one of two things. Either God is unfaithful to His word, or, we don’t have enough trust in His abilities. Remember, the gospel is God’s power to save … for everyone who believes. Rom 1:16

(NOTE: Actually a 3rd option could be that we’re often happy to be saved from sins penalty, but not nearly as interested in being saved from it’s power over our lives, i.e., we like sinning)

But if we truly desire to live for God, and we want the freedom He promises us from the power of sin, we will behold His great wisdom and power in the things which He has created, and we’ll trust Him. That is, once we realize that it’s the same power at work in creation, now at work in our redemption (Redemption is our “re-creation”, it’s the same power that created us – now being put forth to save us!) – we’ll know that what He has said, He’s also able to do. See 2 Cor 5:17, “If any man be in Christ he is a new creation. Old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new.”

Again – if we are a new creation in Christ that means God is exercising His creative power in our behalf – which is infinite i.e., when we believe and trust in Him to do it. God honors our will, and He will not take away our freedom to co-operate with Him or reject Him … the choice is ours.

So, if anyone ever asks you what the gospel is, you can now answer with confidence that it’s “the good news that God has the ability, through Christ, to completely save us from the power and penalty of sin, if we’ll believe it through faith!”

And that, my friend, is good news!

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Girl Thinking

Romans 7:14-25 Shows Clearly Why It’s So Hard to Change

 

 Ever Asked God For Help – And STILL Kept Falling?

 

The introduction below will help you understand the problem when you keep asking God for help – but still aren’t able to change!

 

Intro:

 

BattlefieldofWillFNL

 

Rom 7:14 – “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold as a slave to sin.”

With these words Paul introduces his thoughts about a portion of scripture which has created a stimulating, ongoing debate, namely …

What is “the law of sin” Paul says is “in our members”?

Is the man described as struggling with a “law of sin” a Christian?

If so, does it describe someone who is converted or unconverted ?

What’s he talking about?

These questions and more are answered in my book, The Battlefield of the Will – Why We Keep Doing What We Don’t Want To Do .

It’s a verse by verse breakdown of this intriguing passage of scripture which, correctly understood, offers tremendous hope to the Christian who feels the weight of their never-ending battle with sin. It also helps them to understand why they keep doing things they don’t want to do!

See why Christians aren’t a whole lot different than non-believers, and, why they’re destined to react with the same passions (as non-believers) when they’re not being spirit led.

Jesus said, “… the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32

Start your journey now.

 

Get The Battlefield of the Will!

 

The following post is a brief preview of the book, beginning with the Table of Contents:

 

Table of Contents

 

Introduction: Christians, Ping Pong Balls, Character, and the Will ………

Prelude to Chapter 1: Who Was Paul? …………………………………….

Chapter 1: The Law of Sin and Death ………………………………………

Chapter 2: In Adam or in Christ? …………………………………………..

Chapter 3: Was Paul Making Excuses? ……………………………………

Chapter 4: Leopard Spots and Ethiopian Skin ………………………….

Chapter 5: The Flesh and Indwelling Sin …………………………………

Chapter 6: Carnal Christians? ……………………………………………….

Chapter 7: The Science of Salvation ………………………………………..

Chapter 8: Spiritual Laws and What They Do …………………………..

Chapter 9: The Battle of a Lifetime …………………………………………

Chapter 10: Christianity 101 ………………………………………………….

Chapter 11: How God Treats Sinners ………………………………………

Additional Resources …………………………………………………………..

 

The following excerpt is from the introduction

 

Christians, Ping Pong Balls, Character & The Will

Battlefield of the WillTo introduce our topic I’d like for you to imagine you’re out in your back yard on a warm summer day, relaxing in your swimming pool … just floating along daydreaming … when all of a sudden you notice that all around you are these little white things, bobbing up and down in the water.

Hmmm …

Not sure what to think you take a closer look to see what they are … and that’s when you make an unexpected discovery – the little white things bobbing up and down in the water are PING PONG BALLS!

Taking a closer look you notice that one of them has a big, black label on it. Curious, you reach over to pick it up, so you can read the label and see what it says. There in large print, in big black letters, you see the word “ENVY”.

Startled, you quickly put it back in the water and reach over to pick up another one. This one has a label too – it reads “SELFISHNESS”.

What could this mean?  You look left, then right, and begin to feel a little uneasy.  Although you can’t quite put your finger on it, you instinctively feel this has something to do with you. You quietly put the ball labeled “selfishness” back into the water,  hoping no one is around to see what you’re doing.

You’ve had enough drama, so you decide to gather up all the ping pong balls so you can get rid of them – and that’s when you notice – every single ping pong ball has a label on it.

Here’s one that says “JEALOUSY”, here’s another one which reads “ANGER”.   This one says “APPETITE”, the one over here “LUSTFUL THOUGHTS”, then “LAZINESS”, “PRESUMPTION”, “PRIDE” …. and on it goes, until -

 

Character Defects

That’s when you suddenly realize – the label on each ping pong ball represents one of your character defects! Anger, envy, appetite, selfishness and pride are just a few of the areas the Holy Spirit has recently been showing you are still in your life.

But … you’re a Christian … and you want to live for the LORD … so you don’t want all of these character defects. You don’t want a life of envy, or pride, or selfishness, or being controlled by appetite … so you decide you’re going to work on your character defects one at a time until you can get rid of them.

You start with the ping pong ball labeled ENVY and you push it under the water so no one can see it. Next, you decide to work on SELFISHNESS and you hold it under water. Next it’s APPETITE, then JEALOUSY, then LUST, until, just when it’s starting to look as though you’re getting everything under controlone pops up over here, and another one pops up over there.

And every time you reach over to get a hold of one so you can hold it under water – ANOTHER one pops up. Before long you discover that no matter how hard you try, and no matter how sincere you are … NOTHING YOU CAN DO … is going to keep all those ping pong balls under water. No matter what you try it’s an IMPOSSIBILITY.

Because they’re too quick, they’re too slippery … and they’re RELENTLESS.

They NEVER STOP trying to rise up out of the water. You may hold them under the surface for a little while, but sooner or later, as soon as you quit paying attention, or as soon as you get tired, or relax your grip … there they are again, bobbing up and down  in plain sight, where they can be seen again by one and all.   Order Here

 

Can you relate?

 

Girl Thinking “For the good that I will to do – I do not do. But the evil, I will NOT to do, that I practice.”  Rom 7:19 Have you ever felt that way?

Have you ever felt like no matter how hard you tried, no matter how hard you worked, and no matter how sincere you were, that,  just like those ping pong balls – your character defects keep popping back up all over again?

As soon as you grew tired, quit paying attention, or ‘relaxed your grip’?

Have you ever felt your character defects were RELENTLESS?

Have you ever made a promise to God, only to find you were too weak to carry it out?

And that your promises to God were no stronger than “ropes of sand”?

What is it that keeps you, and keeps me, from getting rid of our character defects – once and for all? What prevents us from becoming “super Christians”?

[NOTE: The term “super Christian” is one I got from a friend at church who was dying of cancer.  He’d been fighting his cancer for about a year and a half and he knew he was losing the battle and only had a short time to live.

One day he was reflecting on his failed attempts to conquer specific areas in his life which he felt were his character defects, and he was very discouraged. He said to me, “Virgil with what I’m facing (he knew his death was near) I don’t understand why I still have the problems I’ve got. It seems like I’d be a “super Christian” by now – but I’m not. I’m still the same person, with the same problems I’ve always had. I don’t get it”.

If only my friend  had understood what you’re about to discover in this book!]

 

The Bible has answers!

We’re going to answer that question – ‘what prevents us from being “super Christians” – by looking at a law which Paul talks about in Romans, the 7th chapter.

It’s what he refers to as “the law of sin”, which he says is “in our members”.  He also refers to it in chapter 8:2 as the “law of sin and death”.  (By the way, he also talks about the remedy, the “law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus”.  But that’s the topic of my next book , part 2 in the series).

But back to the subject at hand – do you ever get discouraged and feel like giving up? Do you ever wonder why it’s so difficult to be true to your beliefs? The Bible has answers! Are you ready to hear a Biblical explanation of why it’s such a struggle to live the Christian life?

Do you need relief from guilt?

Are you ready for some good news?

I believe you are! And if you’ve read this far I don’t think you’re here by accident. I believe you’re here by divine appointment.

So let’s get started, shall we?

We’ll begin in chapter 1 by looking at “the Law of Sin and Death” Paul identifies in Romans 7  … but first I’d like to begin with a discussion about Paul himself.

 

Prelude to Chapter 1: Who Was Paul?

 

I decided before getting into Paul’s excellent portrayal of the battle the Christian faces each day, that it would be a good idea to start with a discussion about Paul himself.

Why?

Pharisee

Because invariably when the subject of the man in Romans 7:14-24 comes up (which Paul writes in the first person) someone will always say,

“Yes, but that was Paul before he was converted”.

Why?

Because it’s hard for them to imagine a giant of the faith like Paul experiencing the same battle(s) mere mortals such as you and I face every day.

And while I can certainly understand the sentiment – because Paul was a giant – I contend that he was …

 

===================================================

Download ebook on Kindle

 

Read the rest in my book!

Comments?

What are your thoughts about the man in Romans 7:14-25 and your own Christian walk? Share them with us below …

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