Questions & Answers from 4/19/15

Anyone can now text questions in during & following the service based on the sermon.  Those questions not answered after the conclusion of the service will be answered here in a Q&A blog post.  This is what this is.

Q: In reference to John 17:23, how can the world know Jesus and God’s love through Christian unity if the world is opposed to God (see Jn 17:14)?

A: The world does hate Jesus, but the world cannot deny a unity that is different than what the rest of the world has to offer.  In the early days of the church, spies sent into the church reporting back to the government would talk about their “strange beliefs” but would go on to say they had a love for one another they couldn’t quite explain.  Jesus prays that the unification of the church would help the world to know that Jesus had been sent by God.  When people see true Christian unity and love at work, the Holy Spirit uses that to convict them and to interest them, because this pure unity and love is not found in the world.  It draws people to Christ and there are plenty of testimonies out there where people ultimately came to know Jesus because of the love they felt or saw between Christians.  There are plenty of things the world can deny, but they cannot deny seeing love and unity in action.

Q: If unity is such a game changer, should there be such a rift between Protestant and Catholic or between denominations?

A: The plain answer is “no” there should not be a rift if the different fellowships hold to the orthodox view of Christianity – that Jesus is God, born of a virgin, born of a woman, lived in the flesh, lived a sinless life, died on a cross for the sins of the world, rose three days later, and is coming back.  A rift has happened when other doctrines have crept in (we should pray to Mary, salvation comes by works, etc.).  If we are teaching salvation is by Christ alone and hold to othrodox views, we should be able to agree to disagree on other non-essentials of theology and seek to win souls to Christ.  The rift happens because we believe we are better than a certain fellowship/denomination based on practices we hold to or our non-essential views (eschatology, sovereignty of God vs free will of man, spiritual gifts, etc.).  We do not need to have one denomination or one fellowship (uniformity) in order to have unity.  I have unity with others of other denominations because Christ has given us that unity.  I can worship and serve with someone who holds to different theological viewpoints because salvation is in Christ, not on whether or not I believe the same way on non-essentials that others do.

Q: I try hard to be unified with another person but they continue to be mean/argumentative to me or treat me bad – what should I do?

A: Romans 12:18 states, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”  You can only do so much, it doesn’t promise the other person will treat you the same.  If the person is a Christian, even if they want to divide with you based on some theologial argument or because they just need to grow in grace, you are already united because of the work of the cross.  You continue to love them and live peaceably with them as much as you can.  Pray for them and let God change their heart.

Q: You mentioned the importance of reading the Word of God (because it sanctifies us) and stated that the average Christian reads less than 5 minutes a day and how we need to do more than that.  Is that not legalistic to state such things?

A: No, as legalism in definition means to rely on moral law to earn salvation rather than faith.  Reading your Bible 5 minutes a day or 5 hours a day will not earn you salvation nor lose you salvation.  It is not legalism to also state that as Christians we need to pray more and love more or to serve the Lord.  Your standing with God is not based on how much you read.  However, our walks and growth and daily sanctification is increased when we spend time in the Word, when we spend time in prayer, and these other activities.  Jesus prayed that we would be sanctified by the truth for His Word is truth (Jn 17:17).  If you want to see that sanctification take place, 5 minutes a day in Scripture is not going to be beneficial for that.  It is better than zero time in the Word, but we should desire more.  5 minutes a day of exercise is helpful, but if you want to lose weight or live a healthy lifestyle, you need more.  So the same is true of the Christian’s diet in the Word.

Q: Is it wrong to post selfies on social media (Instagram, Facebook, etc.)?

A: It depends on your heart’s motivation.  If you are seeking to have your ego stroked or your pride lifted up, then yeah, because you are doing those things based off pride.  If you are simply having fun with social media, sharing a joyous occasion, or wanting others to see a new dress/outfit/etc., then have fun with selfies.  It all goes back to, whatever you do, do to the glory of the Lord (1 Corinthians 10:31, Colossians 3:17,23).

Also in regards to social media, be careful of not causing another person to stumble.  Pictures revealing too much skin or pictures of you engaging in activities you have liberty to do so but others may not (i.e. drinking, watching a certain movie, etc.) or things of that nature should be carefully thought out as we should do things out of love for another.  We don’t have to worry about personal preferences of another but about stumbling someone into sin.

To listen to the teaching this question was posed from, visit www.refugesanger.com/teachings or find us as a podcast on iTunes

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Questions & Answers from 4/12/15

Anyone can now text questions in during & following the service based on the sermon.  Those questions not answered after the conclusion of the service will be answered here in a Q&A blog post.  This is what this is.

Q: In John 17:3, it mentions eternal life.  Does this begin at belief or at death?

A: Eternal begins at belief.  Eternal life isn’t just a continuation of days but of an experiential relationship with Jesus Christ.  All souls are eternal and though our bodies pass away, our souls will either go to Heaven or to Hell for eternity.  Those who know and follow Jesus will not face the second death (Revelation 20:14, 21:8) which is the tossing into the lake of fire, where souls will be tormented (not burn up).  Jesus paid the price for all who will trust and follow (Romans 10:9-10) so that no one needs to suffer there.  Sadly, people reject this great news.  Eternal life is more than just going to Heaven when we pass on – it is a vibrant relationship that can (and should) be had now.  Jesus said He came to give life and life more abundantly (John 10:10).  We know in His presence is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11) and that in Him we can find rest (Matthew 11:28).  Our walk with Jesus is not meant to be a drudgery.  Will it be hard?  Certainly.  Could we be killed for it?  Absolutely, but it is more than just the rat-race that awaits the rest of the world.  It is a walk of faith (2 Corinthians 5:7) and one we can find true joy and peace as we walk in His will.  It may not always be “exciting” but it will be full of purpose and the other blessings that come with it.  Ephesians 1-3 gives us a great look at who we are in Christ and the many blessings that are found in Christ for us.

To listen to the teaching this question was posed from, visit www.refugesanger.com/teachings or find us as a podcast on iTunes

Do We Really Make Sacrifices for Jesus?

It is an easy trap to get into when we talk about how much we have sacrificied to follow Jesus and how hard life is after we gave up so much to follow Jesus.  Understand, we do give up things/offer things up to God in following Him.  In fact, we are told to “continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15) and to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God because it is our reasonable service (Romans 12:1).

But sometimes, we esteem what we give up as something very high or very costly, almost valued evenly (or even above) with that which we are laying it down for.  In other words, we can make it seem like following Jesus is some terrible thing or that Jesus really got a deal when we chose to follow Him because of what we have “sacrificed”.

This past Sunday we talked about the crucifixion and how incredible the pain was:

  • How Jesus was scourged and how the metal balls on the end of the flagrum would cause deep contusions and the sharp bones also at the end would have torn into the skeltal muscles and produced quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh.
  • How the nails into His hands (wrists) and feet near the nerves would have caused severe pain up and down His body resulting in severe cramping.
  • How He would have had to pull up on the nails in His wrists and push down on the ones in His feet to be able to breathe and how painful that was
  • How in breathing His back with all its lacerations would reopen as it scrapped against the rough wood

In fact, the word “excruciating” was created to describe the horrible pain of the cross as it means “out of the cross” in the Latin.  All this pain (plus the act of the world’s sins being placed on Him) He volunteered for so He could be our propitiation (substitute sacrifice).  He went through all this so that we could have life.

And yet we talk about all we go through for Him to which I say isn’t really sacrifice in comparison.  It is however, “our reasonable act of service”.

Getting up “early” to go to a church service is not a sacrifice.  Not hanging around friends who are a poor influence to follow Christ is not a sacrifice.  Giving of money to God’s work is not a sacrifice.  Not living in sin is not a sacrifice.

Suffering horribly voluntarily for the sins of the world and continually loving them in spite of all we do – that is a sacrifice.  Let us be careful how we use that word and how we relate what we give up for Him, because in comparison it is nothing.

You gave up sins that lead to death so you can find life.  You gave up friends who lead to corruption so you can be holy.  You give up a little money in response to all the riches He gives you now and in the life to come.  You give up a little sleep to hear the life changing truths of God’s word and be in fellowship with God’s people (as told we should do).  You gain far more than you could ever exchange.

So again, let us be careful of what we say are “sacrifices” for Jesus!

This blog post comes from further thoughts of the topical sermon on 1 Corinthians 2:2 and the crucifixion titled “The Crux of the Matter” which can be found by clicking here or simply visiting http://www.refugesanger.com/teachings.  We are also on iTunes – search “Refuge Sanger” or “Pastor Mike Massey” to find our messages.

Be reminded how much He loves you and why you can find life through His crucifixion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ms1qU3TXDwI