Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Worrkman Unashamed



Passage 2 Timothy 2:14-21

Prayer

Dear Father, firm foundation,Help me to avoid disputes about words, which does no good, but merely ruins the hearers.Help me do my best to present myself to you for your approval, a workman who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling your word of truth.Your firm foundation stands sure, bearing a seal which says two things: \"The Lord knows those who are his.\" \"Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.\"You in your sovereign power and omniscience know my acceptability. For my part let me find assurance in my deep desire to do your will. Purify me that I may be a vessel for noble use in your house, consecrated and useful to Christ, the master of the house, ready for any good work.In Jesus' name.
Amen.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Endure, Never Deny


Passage 2 Timothy 2:11-13
Prayer

Dear Father, ever faithful God,Thank you for my Savior, Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, as preached in the gospel of your grace. Help me endure all things for the sake of that glorious message. May my words and deeds be a clear witness. May I endure everything for the sake of your elect, that they may obtain salvation and eternal glory.Thank you that I have died with Christ and will also live with him. May I endure, so I might also reign with you. May I never deny you, so you will not deny me. And may I remain faithful to you, as you yourself are faithful.In the name of Jesus, grant me perseverence in your love. I give you my unreserved obedience.
Amen.

WE REJECT DOCTRINAL ERRORS 3

The Canons of Dort, Second Head of Doctrine

The Death of Christ, and the Redemption of Men Thereby - Articles of Faith

Article 1
God is not only supremely merciful, but also supremely just. And His justice requires (as He has revealed Himself in His Word) that our sins committed against His infinite majesty should be punished, not only with temporal but with eternal punishments, both in body and soul; which we cannot escape, unless satisfaction be made to the justice of God.

Article 2
Since, therefore, we are unable to make that satisfaction in our own persons, or to deliver ourselves from the wrath of God, He has been pleased of His infinite mercy to give His only begotten Son for our Surety, who was made sin, and became a curse for us and in our stead, that He might make satisfaction to divine justice on our behalf.

Article 3
The death of the Son of God is the only and most perfect sacrifice and satisfaction for sin, and is of infinite worth and value, abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world.

Article 4
This death is of such infinite value and dignity because the person who submitted to it was not only really man and perfectly holy, but also the only begotten Son of God, of the same eternal and infinite essence with the Father and the Holy Spirit, which qualifications were necessary to constitute Him a Savior for us; and, moreover, because it was attended with a sense of the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin.

Article 5
Moreover, the promise of the gospel is that whosoever believes in Christ crucified shall not perish, but have eternal life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published to all nations, and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction, to whom God out of His good pleasure sends the gospel.

Article 6
And, whereas many who are called by the gospel do not repent nor believe in Christ, but perish in unbelief, this is not owing to any defect or insufficiency in the sacrifice offered by Christ upon the cross, but is wholly to be imputed to themselves.

Article 7
But as many as truly believe, and are delivered and saved from sin and destruction through the death of Christ, are indebted for this benefit solely to the grace of God given them in Christ from everlasting, and not to any merit of their own.

Article 8
For this was the sovereign counsel and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of His Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation; that is, it was the will of God that Christ by the blood of the cross, whereby He confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation and given to Him by the Father; that He should confer upon them faith, which, together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, He purchased for them by His death; should purge them from all sin, both original and actual, whether committed before or after believing; and having faithfully preserved them even to the end, should at last bring them, free from every spot and blemish, to the enjoyment of glory in His own presence forever.

Article 9
This purpose, proceeding from everlasting love towards the elect, has from the beginning of the world to this day been powerfully accomplished, and will henceforward still continue to be accomplished, notwithstanding all the ineffectual opposition of the gates of hell; so that the elect in due time may be gathered together into one, and that there never may be wanting a Church composed of believers, the foundation of which is laid in the blood of Christ; which may steadfastly love and faithfully serve Him as its Savior (who, as a bridegroom for his bride, laid down His life for them upon the cross); and which may celebrate His praises here and through all eternity.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Worker Approved of God


2 Timothy 2:11-13

11 The saying is trustworthy, for:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful
for he cannot deny himself.

Prayer

Dear Father, ever faithful God,Thank you for my Savior, Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, as preached in the gospel of your grace. Help me endure all things for the sake of that glorious message. May my words and deeds be a clear witness. May I endure everything for the sake of your elect, that they may obtain salvation and eternal glory.Thank you that I have died with Christ and will also live with him. May I endure, so I might also reign with you. May I never deny you, so you will not deny me. And may I remain faithful to you, as you yourself are faithful.In the name of Jesus, grant me perseverence in your love. I give you my unreserved obedience.
Amen.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Instilled with Truth


Passage 2 Timothy 2:8-13

Prayer
Dear Father,Let my remembrance and my devotions be set upon Jesus Christ, a descendant of David according to the flesh but an heir of your riches according to his resurrection from the dead.Let me obtain the salvation which in Jesus Christ goes with eternal glory.Instill within me the meaning of your true saying: If we have died with him, we shall also live with him; if we endure, we shall also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful - for he cannot deny himself!In the name of Jesus I ask.
Amen.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Disciplined for Service



Passage 2 Timothy 2:1-7
Prayer

Dear Father,Make me strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Help me pass your word on to others who also will share it.Help me take my share of suffering as a good soldier of Christ. Help me avoid \"civilian\" entanglements that would dilute my loyal obedience to Christ, my commander.Help me be a disciplined athlete for you. Help me to be a hard-working farmer who tills in your vineyard, patiently waiting for the harvest that comes from you.In the name of Jesus I ask.
Amen!

Entrusted with faith


2 Timothy 1:11-14

Prayer


Dear Father,Give me great faith. Help me know whom I have believed and absolutely know that you are able to guard until that Day what I have entrusted to you and what you have entrusted to me.Thank you for the salvation and holy calling that you have given me. This was not in virtue of my goodness but in virtue of your own purpose and grace. This is what you gave us in Christ Jesus ages ago and have now manifested in the appearing of Christ upon earth.In his name I pray. Amen.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Entrusted with truth

2 Timothy 1:9-14


Prayer

Dear Father,Thank you that Jesus abolished death and brought life and immortality to life through the Good News. Help us be true to this message, to teach it and preach it. Help us follow the pattern of sound words which have been given us in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.Grant that we may guard the truth you have entrusted to us by the Holy Spirit which you have caused to dwell within us.In the name of Jesus I ask.
Amen.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Empowed to serve



Passage 2 Timothy 1:3-10

Prayer

Dear Father, seer of my inmost thoughts,Give me a clear conscience in my service to you. Then fill my mouth with prayers to you as I intercede for those I love. Let my contacts with them be sources of great joy for all of us. Let the sincere faith of our mothers and fathers and other relatives take root in us and grow.Whatever gift you have given me, help me rekindle it every day and fan it into a flame of service and love for you. Help me live boldly for you, for you did not give me a spirit of timidity but a spirit of love and power and inward strength.Don't let me ever be ashamed of bearing witness about our Lord. Let me take my share of suffering for the gospel and rely on your power.In the name and power of Jesus I pray.
Amen.

Friday, August 19, 2011

WE REJECT DOCTRINAL ERRORS 2

The true doctrine concerning election and reprobation having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those:

Paragraph 1

Who teach: That the will of God to save those who would believe and would persevere in faith and in the obedience of faith is the whole and entire decree of election unto salvation, and that nothing else concerning this decree has been revealed in God's Word.
For these deceive the simple and plainly contradict the Scriptures, which declare that God will not only save those who will believe, but that He has also from eternity chosen certain particular persons to whom, above others, He will grant, in time, both faith in Christ and perseverance; as it is written: I manifested thy name unto the men whom thou gavest me out of the world (John 17:6). And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed (Acts 13:48). And: Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love (Eph. 1:4).

Paragraph 2

Who teach: That there are various kinds of election of God unto eternal life: the one general and indefinite, the other particular and definite; and that the latter in turn is either incomplete, revocable, non-decisive, and conditional, or complete, irrevocable, decisive, and absolute. Likewise: That there is one election unto faith and another unto salvation, so that election can be unto justifying faith, without being a decisive election unto salvation.
For this is a fancy of men's minds, invented regardless of the Scriptures, whereby the doctrine of election is corrupted, and this golden chain of our salvation is broken: And whom he foreordained, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified (Rom. 8:30).

Paragraph 3


Who teach: That the good pleasure and purpose of God, of which Scripture makes mention in the doctrine of election, does not consist in this, that God chose certain persons rather than others, but in this, that He chose out of all possible conditions (among which are also the works of the law), or out of the whole order of things, the act of faith which from its very nature is undeserving, as well as its incomplete obedience, as a condition of salvation, and that He would graciously consider this in itself as a complete obedience and count it worthy of the reward of eternal life.
For by this injurious error the pleasure of God and the merits of Christ are made of none effect, and men are drawn away by useless questions from the truth of gracious justification and from the simplicity of Scripture, and this declaration of the apostle is charged as untrue: Who saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before times eternal (II Tim. 1:9).

Paragraph 4

Who teach: That in the election unto faith this condition is beforehand demanded that man should use his innate understanding of God [1] aright, be pious, humble, meek, and fit for eternal life, as if on these things election were in any way dependent.
For this savors of the teaching of Pelagius, and is opposed to the doctrine of the apostle when he writes: Among whom we also all once lived in the lust of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest; but God, being rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus; that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus; for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory (Eph. 2:3-9).

1. "The light of nature" has been changed to "his innate understanding of God".

Paragraph 5

Who teach: That the incomplete and non-decisive election of particular persons to salvation occurred because of a foreseen faith, conversion, holiness, godliness, which either began or continued for some time; but that the complete and decisive election occurred because of foreseen perseverance unto the end in faith, conversion, holiness, and godliness; and that this is the gracious and evangelical worthiness, for the sake of which he who is chosen is more worthy than he who is not chosen; and that therefore faith, the obedience of faith, holiness, godliness, and perseverance are not fruits of the unchangeable election unto glory, but are conditions which, being required beforehand, were foreseen as being met by those who will be fully elected, and are causes without which the unchangeable election to glory does not occur.

This is repugnant to the entire Scripture, which constantly inculcates this and similar declarations: Election is not of works, but of him that calleth (Rom. 9:11). And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed (Acts 13:48). He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (Eph. 1:4). Ye did not choose me, but I chose you (John 15:16). But if it is by grace, it is no more of works (Rom. 11:6). Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son (I John 4:10).

Paragraph 6
Who teach: That not every election unto salvation is unchangeable, but that some of the elect, any decree of God notwithstanding, can yet perish and do indeed perish.
By this gross error they make God to be changeable, and destroy the comfort which the godly obtain out of the firmness of their election, and contradict the Holy Scripture, which teaches that the elect can not be led astray (Matt. 24:24), that Christ does not lose those whom the Father gave him (John 6:39), and that God also glorified those whom he foreordained, called, and justified (Rom. 8:30).

Paragraph 7
Who teach: That there is in this life no fruit and no consciousness of the unchangeable election to glory, nor any certainty, except that which depends on a changeable and uncertain condition.
For not only is it absurd to speak of an uncertain certainty, but also contrary to the experience of the saints, who by virtue of the consciousness of their election rejoice with the apostle and praise this favor of God (Eph. 1); who according to Christ's admonition rejoice with his disciples that their names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20); who also place the consciousness of their election over against the fiery darts of the devil, asking: Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? (Rom. 8:33).

Paragraph 8
Who teach: That God, simply by virtue of His righteous will, did not decide either to leave anyone in the fall of Adam and in the common state of sin and condemnation, or to pass anyone by in the communication of grace which is necessary for faith and conversion.

For this is firmly decreed: He hath mercy on whom he will, and whom he will he hardeneth (Rom. 9:18). And also this: Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given (Matt. 13:11). Likewise: I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou didst hide these things from the wise and understanding, and didst reveal them unto babes; yea, Father, for so it was well-pleasing in thy sight (Matt. 11:25, 26).

Paragraph 9
Who teach: That the reason why God sends the gospel to one people rather than to another is not merely and solely the good pleasure of God, but rather the fact that one people is better and worthier than another to which the gospel is not communicated.
For this Moses denies, addressing the people of Israel as follows: Behold, unto Jehovah thy God belongeth heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth, with all that is therein. Only Jehovah had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all peoples, as at this day (Deut. 10:14, 15). And Christ said: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon which were done in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes (Matt. 11:21).

The Good Fight of Faith



1 Timothy 6:20-21, 11-16
Prayer

Dear Father, invisible and immortal God,Guard me that I may guard what you have entrusted to me. Help me to avoid the godless talk and vain reasonings of \"knowledge,\" (which is not real knowledge) lest I miss the mark as regards the faith.Give me the courage and strength to flee from all wickedness and to pursue instead righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Help me fight the good fight of faith.In the name of Jesus and to your glory I lift up this prayer.
Amen.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A sure foundation


Dear Father,May we learn to be content and not to seek material riches. Let not our craving for riches cause us to wander away from the faith and pierce holes in our own hearts.Help those who have an abundance of this world's goods to not be haughty nor to put their confidence in riches. Help us to set our hearts upon you, the living God, who richly furnishes us with everything to enjoy.Help us all to do good, to be rich in good works, to be liberal and generous. May we thus lay a foundation for the future, and take hold of the life which is life indeed.In the name of Jesus I ask.
Amen.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

1 Timothy 6:12-15


Prayer

Dear Father, Lord of all lords,Enable me to take hold of the eternal life to which I was called when I made the good confession before many witnesses. Help me keep your commands until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which you will bring about in your own time.O God, the blessed and only ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see - to you be honor and might forever and ever. Amen.
In the name of Jesus and to your glory I lift up this prayer.
Amen.

Monday, August 15, 2011

HOW CAN I BE SAVED?

How can I be saved?
(ACTS 15:1-35)                                         
But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will."                     

The greatest hindrance to the conversion of men is false teaching. If one is saved it is because he has heard the true gospel which is the power of God for salvation to those who believe. You must hear the unadulterated gospel if you are to be saved. Since Satan knows that it is by the power of the Word of God that sinners are saved, then he has tried to water it down, to hide the truth, to package untruth as the truth in order to deceive, if possible even the elect.

We live at a time when there is too much false teaching being propagated. There are too many Bible welding preachers who, although they punctuate their statements with “… in the Name of Jesus” are agents of Satan to deceive the church of Christ. Although they claim to be ambassadors of Christ, they are wolves sent from hell to defile the Bride of Christ. Some of them are sincerely deceived, others are out to deceive and yet others think that they are serving Christ. It is with this in mind that I would wish to slightly deviate from my series on they got converted and deal with the hindrance to conversion – false teaching. I will also show the way to be saved and so I have called this sermon, ‘How can I be saved?’

Before us is a very important event in the history of the church of Christ. The Church had started in Jerusalem at the day of Pentecost and had spread just as per the instruction of the Lord – to Judea, Samaria, Antioch and so it was progressing to the uttermost parts of the World. It had by this time moved from the house of Israel – the Jews to the Gentiles. It was at this time that some men, purporting to be  angels of light, came down from the church in Jerusalem to the Gentiles in Antioch. They pretended to be apostolic emissaries. And they had a message which they claimed would lead to the salvation of the Gentile sinners.

1.       BE WARE OF FALSE TEACHERS!

Their claim is stated in Acts 15:1, 5 "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." What a great emphasis they laid upon the Law of Moses? They were not making a suggestion that “You ought to be circumcised after the manner of Moses, and it will be good service to the kingdom of the Messiah if you would be. They were not saying that it was in the best interest to accommodate matters between you and the Jewish converts, and we shall take it very kindly if you will. No it was an imperative as to the way of salvation itself, “Except you be circumcised you cannot be saved. You cannot be saved, you can see heaven or its glory if you are not of our mind and way, our manner and our customs. Without this, you will never go to heaven, and therefore of course you must go to hell.” They were saying that it is not an additional benefit to follow Mosaic order – it is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the Law of Moses (v.5)

You notice that it is very common for false teachers, those proud impostors to enforce their own inventions under the pain of damnation; and to tell people that unless they believe just as they would have them believe, and do just as they would have them do, they cannot be saved. Be very careful of those who come to you claiming to be the only ones going to heaven and except you follow their belief then you are damned. You have heard of those who say that unless you have had a second experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit – unless you are saved and delivered, it is impossible for you to taste the glories of heaven. I have been told that no one will be saved except those who worship on Saturday. I have heard many who teach that if you are sick or poor you have not yet become the child of the King. They say that believers are princes and princesses of God the King and so they must live in health and in wealth. They say that if you are not prospering in body and soul, then your spiritual life has not even began. Be advised now that their case is perilous, and fraught.

Thus the Jews from Jerusalem tell the Gentile believers that they cannot be their brethren except they be of their church, and come into their communion, and conform to the ceremonies of their worship, and be circumcised in the way of Moses and offer animal sacrifices and have a priesthood from Levi be their mediators. The Jewish law contained basic moral provisions that apply to us even now and also the many aspects if a more ceremonial nature such as circumcision, the kosher food laws, laws on external purity and various kinds of sacrifices and festivals. Without going far these laws presented an insurmountable difficulty for the Gentile believers so that to live by them would make it virtually impossible to continue in their Gentile communities. However, according to the Old Testament a Gentile had to follow them and be circumcised in order to belong to the people of God (Gen. 17:9-14), and it seemed to many of the Jewish Christians zealous for the law that the church ought to require this for male believers. They told them that although they may be otherwise good men and believers in Christ, yet they cannot be saved; salvation itself cannot save them. None are in Christ but those that are within their circles. We ought to see ourselves well warranted by the word of God before we say, “Except you do so and so, you cannot be saved.”

It is clear that these are self-appointed preachers although they in fact came from Jerusalem because they belonged to the Pharisaic party (v.5). though they had professed faith in Christ they had not submitted to His authority. They were the same Pharisees that the Lord had pronounced woes - ".. woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. (Matt. 23:13). They were condemned, blind children of hell according to the Lord in Matthew 23. They were the same brood of serpents as John the Baptist had called them.

What error were they propagating?


1)     They were in error because what they were teaching did not have Scriptural backing.

They were making big claims that did not have in basis from the Word of God. There is nowhere were the Lord talks of the incoming of the Gentiles were they were commanded to obey the Jewish rituals for salvation. Where do we find that the keeping of the Law of Moses can save the Jews leave alone the Gentiles? The purpose of the Law is cleared stated in Romans 3:20, “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” (Romans 7:7). “…the law came in to increase transgression”(Rom. 5:20).

The Lord gave the Law so that man may be left utterly helpless to save Himself and had to rely on God Himself for salvation. The point is that, For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Rom 8:3-4). You see the Lord is the One only able to fulfill all the requirements of the law and this He has done and brought life and salvation to us. You see all those who rely on the works of the law are under a curse (Gal. 3:10) because they do not have the capacity to keep it. And it is evident that no one is justified by God for keeping the law (Gal. 3:11). So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. (Gal 3:24-26)

Many false teachers teach man-made religion, where a person is told that he can save himself. You listen keenly to what most of the American televangelists will tell you. They teach how people can be saved without a saviour. You are told that you can be what you want to be. You are told that your words have power to create even your own salvation. What they are telling you is that you do not need the Saviour. You are gods they tell you, surely they are twisting the Scriptures to draw you away from salvation.

Be careful because many will not tell you that your problem is sin. Joel Osteen being interviewed by Larry King admitted that he never talks about sin or sinners and has never even thought about it because it is not for him to judge people. The point is that if a correct diagnosis for your sickness is not made then how can you find the right cure?

You are supposed to compare everything said by any preacher – me included with the Word of God. Carry your Bible and search the Scriptures even after hearing a sermon like the church in Berea who were of a noble character. Do not accept my Word for it so simply find out whether it is true from your Bible. Do just allow TV preachers to stuff you with whatever they want. Make sure that it is the Word of God that they are preaching and if not do not listen to them.

2)      They were in error because they themselves could not keep the law as God requires.

This is what Stephen told them, “… you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it." (Act 7:53). Although they were completely unable to keep it, they required the young believers to keep it! Talk of straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

Paul told them, “You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law.” (Rom 2:23). Pharisaic hypocrisy is what they wanted to pass on to the Christian church but Christ could not let it for their error was discovered by Barnabas and Paul and the church. They fought it by all means because it was what the Lord had told His apostles to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.

Many preachers do not practice what they tell you. They are those who preach water when the drink wine. Such are hypocrites because they advocate what is not practical in their own lives. Do not listen to them because they are blind guides. Do not let them simply because they have one evidence to show that they are obeying what they are teaching – like these Pharisee who had their circumcision to show as the evidence of their law-keeping!

“… but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.” (Rom 2:8-11)

 “…you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law.” (Rom 2:21-23)

3)      They were in error because they were putting God to test

How were they putting God to test? By speaking in presumption. They were speaking for God when God had not told them and expecting God to do what they wanted! They were arm-twisting God to obey them. What human wickedness to manipulate God? Many false preachers are masters at manipulating God to do their will. But the result is that they have created miniature gods for themselves. The true God cannot be part of their folly. You know how they arm-twist God? They invite people to come for miracles supposedly from God when God has not told them. They invite the blind, the paralyzed and the sick to be healed, something that Christ Jesus Himself did not do! Is it that they will do greater things than Jesus Himself? If it is true then will God do something without saying? God has clearly revealed everything to His Church and those who act outside of Scripture are not messengers from God. It appears that they are warped up and do not know the power of God nor His word. 

Peter told these Pharisees point blank that even from long ago their own fathers were unable to do what they were telling the Gentile believers to do. He told them, “Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? (Act 15:10). Troubling the least in the kingdom of God is equal to tempting God. Persecuting the church of Christ, Paul had learnt earlier on in his life was the same as persecuting Christ! They were requiring the Gentile believers to do what God had not sanctioned and were making their traditions to be more valuable than the Word of God rendering it of no effect and so they were tempting God by provoking Him to anger as their forefathers had done.

Putting a yoke of ceremonial and Jewish civil laws on the Gentiles was a torture of the highest order. They were taking away from the Word of God by doing this.

4)      They were in error because they were troubling these Gentile believers

To require any one to do what the Saviour does not require is to bring unnecessary and unwarranted trouble on a believer. This is what James and Paul are in agreement. James says, “… we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God,” (Act 15:19). Then Paul says, “…but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ (Gal. 1:7). The conclusion of the council in Jerusalem was that, “Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions,” (v.24) because they did not want to lay on you no greater burden (v.28). No one should lay a burden on another Christian more than what is required in the Bible.

They were putting the yoke of their laws on the Gentiles. They were doing injustice to these new converts by requiring them to continue in the old way of life when God had unveiled a new order. It was not fair to require these believers to remain in the old covenant when the new had already been inaugurated. Then new covenant was to be outworked under the new government with the new laws and requirements. The old one was pointing to the coming of the Saviour. Now that He has come, how can one be expected to live as if he has not come. How could they have continued to offer sacrifices when the perfect and final one had been offered and accepted? It was completely ridiculous!  Imagine you are told that the bread and the wine used in the Lord’s Supper are the body and the blood of Christ being offered once more – what blasphemy!

Imagine people are told to keep the old covenant Sabbath as if the Lord of the Sabbath has not come? Imagine you are told to go to a human priest as if Christ is not the Great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, as if you do not have a high priest who is able to sympathize with your human weaknesses. You have the Great High Priest who was tempted in every respect yet without sin. You have such a High priest who has opened the way for you into the holy of holies by His blood and so has given you confidence to approach the throne of mercy so that you may obtain mercy and grace in times of need. Amen!

2.       YOU ARE SAVED BY THE GRACE OF CHRIST!

There is only one way in which all people are saved. They might have lived before or after Christ. They might have lived in the Eden or in Palestine or in Sudan in the first century or in the twentieth century. This is by believing in Christ. One who believes in Jesus Christ so as to repent of his sins and trust in Jesus Christ obtains grace that is sufficient unto salvation. This means there is no human merit that is able or adequate to yield salvation. There is no amount of human effort that can bring one’s guilty of sin to nothing. There is no human exertion can cause a person to have enough righteousness as to turn away God’s wrath. He might be a Jew or an American or an African it all cannot bring salvation.

When the claim to the contrary was brought to the believers in Antioch they sought to find out the truth of the matter from Word of God through the inspired apostles as well as through their experiences in the ministry. Both churches – in Antioch and Jerusalem met and after examining the evidence of both the Word of God and their own experiences they came to the conclusion that, “But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will." (Act 15:11)

1)      The evidence of the Scripture (vv. 15-17)

The Prophets were in agreement according to James that it will come to a time when Gentiles would be admitted into the commonwealth of Israel so as to be within the tents of David. He went on to name one of the prophets who was of that opinion. The Lord had said that there would come a time when He would admit Gentiles, those who were of old not His people to become His own. They would not seek Him by themselves, but He was the one to be the Agent for this change when He would return and raise up or rebuild the tents of David that had fallen. God Himself would initiate the restoration and the rebuilding of the tents of David. He would do this with the purpose of causing the remnant of mankind, not just Israel, but mankind to seek Him. He would gather ALL Gentiles and He would call them by His Name!

Would you notice what the Prophet quotes as having been said by the Lord? No one and nothing would induce God to do this it is by His own volition that He had purposed to do it. Now salvation is of the Lord and there is nothing a man can do to give himself salvation because his sinful condition is dire and can only be rectified by one who is able and willing to do it. Now God is willing according to His own Word, as prophet Amos and Isaiah points out from what James has quoted it is God Himself saying that He is willing.

It is grace that God has condescended to save man. It is grace that He has stooped to lower to elect men and so to give His own Son to come and take on human flesh. It is grace that Christ was willing to come and be born of a woman, to be born under the law, to save those under the law. It is grace that Christ was willing to suffer and die under the hands of sinful men. It is grace that having completely lived righteously He satisfied the legal demands of the law and so paid the penalty of the sins of men. It is grace that He was willing to give His righteousness to men who trust in Him. It is grace, something that we did not deserve at all that the Holy Spirit was willing to come and indwell men as the deposit to guarantee the inheritance to come. It is grace that He has gifted us so that we are able to live holy lives and serve in His body.

2)      The evidence of ministry among the Jews

It is clear that those who were saved in the Old Testament among the Jews were completely undeserving – is it Abraham was deserving? Abraham who was called from idolatry? Would you say that Abraham, that liar and coward who kept on lying about his own wife was deserving to be saved? Who was so deserving? Is it David that adulterous and murdering king? Who in the Old Testament fully obeyed the law? The answer is none because the Bible is clear that all those who are saved have nothing to boast about.

Who was the most deserving Jew to be saved in the New Testament? Would you say Peter who denied Christ not once but three times was deserving to be saved? No for he told the Lord depart from me for  I am a sinner! Would you say Paul? Paul admits that it is by grace that He was what he was. Otherwise he was a blasphemer, a murderer etc. all those who were saved among the Jews in the ministry of both the Lord and His apostles were not deserving anything at all.

3)      The evidence of the ministry among the Gentiles

When Philip had preached to the Ethiopian Eunuch there was no demand that He was supposed to be circumcised. Peter had preached in Cornelius’ house and before the whole household could even say that they had believed, God had already saved them and stamped it by giving them the Holy Spirit immediately. When they were saved no one said that they were required to be circumcised! How comes then those in Antioch? Paul and Barnabas had preached in many places and they saw God working mightily to bring conversions but none had received the Holy Spirit after being circumcised so how can it be no such had become a necessity? They had risked their lives for the purpose of bringing the Word of God to the Gentiles and not their own wisely devised fables. They had noticed that there was something wrong and what was wrong was the preaching of those who belonged to the Pharisaic party.

Clearly if one is saved then it must be faith in Christ alone. Whoever tries to add something to the manner in which sinners are saved is not preaching the truths of the Gospel but a false doctrine. “If we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” (Gal. 1:6-9).

Conclusion


We are to grow to maturity so that we able to separate between edifying preaching and that which dishonors the Lord especially with our TV Sets. The Bible tells us to grow in the Word of God through the church “…until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes (Eph 4:13-14).

Why should you listen to a TV preacher whose church you would not go? Imagine some of us are watching even Helicopter Ministries because the guy purports to prophesy and see what you do not see. Now why are you interested in seeing what the Lord would not allow you to see? Imagine you waste your time watching a guy who is taking his time to sell what he calls ‘anointing oil’ for varied amounts depending on your ability and not even your need! Is this not witchcraft and cunning described in 2Timothy 3? But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. (2Tim. 3:1-7)

I do not know whether you know the preachers in Nairobi and compare this Scripture with what you see. Most of them are asking that you send them money by M-Pesa and Airtel money and other mobile phone services so that you can be connected to God! They say that if you send them money then your family, business, studies, will prosper! Surely, that should ring a bell in your mind that they are wolfs in sheepskin because the Bible talks of such who would be lovers of money.

We are to thank the Lord who does not require so much from us but only wants every one of us to be saved freely and graciously. Yes we read that “…God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time (1Tim. 2:3-6). We are therefore to pray for others who have not known Christ that they may also be saved.

Once we are saved we ought to live pure lives as these Gentile believers were required by the inspired council of Jerusalem so that by our pure lives we may attract others to Christ when they see our holy lives. As you can see they spoke under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (V.28).We are to be willing to speak to them the gospel as it is the power of God for the salvation of those who believe.
We are to do everything possible to be of encouragement to other believers as we see Barnabas and Paul so keen to do as they go Jerusalem and afterward. It is for this reason that the council was told the gentile believers not to do such things that would hinder table fellowship between the Jews and them, without the Jews being inconsiderate of the Gentiles.

We are always to remember that we are the strength of other believers when we pray for them. We are our brethren’s keeper and we should do everything in power to make the fellowship warm and sweet so that the Name of the Lord may be honored even by the unbelievers.
What a joy to know error and those who bring them to avoid them. See how much joy the conclusions of the council produced! See how much the church in Antioch was strengthened and encouraged! (V.30-35).

Friday, August 5, 2011

WE REJECT DOCTRINAL ERRORS 1


The Canons of Dort, First Head of Doctrine
Divine Election and Reprobation - Articles of Faith

Article 1
     As all men have sinned in Adam, lie under the curse, and are deserving of eternal death, God would have done no injustice by leaving them all to perish and delivering them over to condemnation on account of sin, according to the words of the apostle: That every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may be brought under the judgment of God (Rom. 3:19). And: For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).  And: For the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).

Article 2
     But in this the love of God was manifested, that He sent his only begotten Son into the world, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life (I John 4:9; John 3:16).

Article 3
     And that men may be brought to believe, God mercifully sends the messengers of these most joyful tidings to whom He will and at what time He pleases; by whose ministry men are called to repentance and faith in Christ crucified. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach except they be sent (Rom. 10:14, 15).

Article 4
     The wrath of God abides upon those who believe not this gospel. But such as receive it and embrace Jesus the Savior by a true and living faith are by Him delivered from the wrath of God and from destruction, and have the gift of eternal life conferred upon them.

Article 5
     The cause or guilt of this unbelief as well as of all other sins is no wise in God, but in man himself; whereas faith in Jesus Christ and salvation through Him is the free gift of God, as it is written: By grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8). Likewise: To you it hath been granted in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on   him, etc. (Phil. 1:29).

Article 6
     That some receive the gift of faith from God, and others do not receive it, proceeds from God's eternal decree. For known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world (Acts 15:18, A.V.). Who worketh all things after the counsel of his will (Eph. 1:11). According to which decree He graciously softens the hearts of the elect, however obstinate, and inclines them to believe; while He leaves the non-elect in His just judgment to their own wickedness and obduracy. And herein is especially displayed the profound, the merciful, and at the same time the righteous discrimination between men equally involved in ruin; or that decree of election and reprobation, revealed in the Word of God, which, though men of perverse, impure, and unstable minds wrest it to their own destruction, yet to holy and pious souls affords unspeakable consolation.

Article 7
     Election is the unchangeable purpose of God, whereby, before the foundation of the world, He has out of mere grace, according to the sovereign good pleasure of His own will, chosen from the whole human race, which had fallen through their own fault from their primitive state of rectitude into sin and destruction, a certain number of persons to redemption in Christ, whom He from eternity appointed the Mediator and Head of the elect and the foundation of salvation. This elect number, though by nature neither better nor more deserving than others, but with them involved in one common misery, God has decreed to give to Christ to be saved by Him, and effectually to call and draw them to His communion by His Word and Spirit; to bestow upon them true faith, justification, and sanctification; and having powerfully preserved them in the fellowship of His Son, finally to glorify them for the demonstration of His mercy, and for the praise of the riches of His glorious grace; as it is written: Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love: having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved (Eph. 1:4, 5,6). And elsewhere: Whom he foreordained, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified (Rom. 8:30).

Article 8
     There are not various decrees of election, but one and the same decree respecting all those who shall be saved, both under the Old and the New Testament; since the Scripture declares the good pleasure, purpose, and counsel of the divine will to be one, according to which He has chosen us from eternity, both to grace and to glory, to salvation and to the way of salvation, which He has ordained that we should walk therein (Eph. 1:4, 5; 2:10).

Article 9
     This election was not founded upon foreseen faith and the obedience of faith, holiness, or any other good quality or disposition in man, as the prerequisite, cause, or condition on which it depended; but men are chosen to faith and to the obedience of faith, holiness, etc. Therefore election is the fountain of every saving good, from which proceed faith, holiness, and the other gifts of salvation, and finally eternal life itself, as its fruits and effects, according to the testimony of the apostle: He hath chosen us (not because we were, but) that we should be holy, and without blemish before him in love (Eph. 1:4).

Article 10
     The good pleasure of God is the sole cause of this gracious election; which does not consist herein that out of all possible qualities and actions of men God has chosen some as a condition of salvation, but that He was pleased out of the common mass of sinners to adopt some certain persons as a peculiar people to Himself, as it is written: For the children being not yet born, neither having done anything good or bad, etc., it was said unto her (namely, to Rebekah), The elder shall serve the younger. Even as it is written, Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated (Rom. 9:11, 12, 13). And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed (Acts 13:48).

Article 11
     And as God Himself is most wise, unchangeable, omniscient, and omnipotent, so the election made by Him can neither be interrupted nor changed, recalled, or annulled; neither can the elect be cast away, nor their number diminished.

Article 12
     The elect in due time, though in various degrees and in different measures, attain the assurance of this their eternal and unchangeable election, not by inquisitively prying into the secret and deep things of God, but by observing in themselves with a spiritual joy and holy pleasure the infallible fruits of election pointed out in the Word of God  such as, a true faith in Christ, filial fear, a godly sorrow for sin, a hungering and thirsting after righteousness, etc.

Article 13
     The sense and certainty of this election afford to the children of God additional matter for daily humiliation before Him, for adoring the depth of His mercies, for cleansing themselves, and rendering grateful returns of ardent love to Him who first manifested so great love towards them. The consideration of this doctrine of election is so far from encouraging remissness in the observance of the divine commands or from sinking men in carnal security, that these, in the just judgment of God, are the usual effects of rash presumption or of idle and wanton trifling with the grace of election, in those who refuse to walk in the ways of the elect.

Article 14
     As the doctrine of divine election by the most wise counsel of God was declared by the prophets, by Christ Himself, and by the apostles, and is clearly revealed in the Scriptures both of the Old and the New Testament, so it is still to be published in due time and place in the Church of God, for which it was peculiarly designed, provided it be done with reverence, in the spirit of discretion and piety, for the glory of God's most holy Name, and for enlivening and comforting His people, without vainly attempting to investigate the secret ways of the Most High (Acts 20:27; Rom. 11:33, 34; 12:3; Heb. 6:17, 18).

Article 15
     What peculiarly tends to illustrate and recommend to us the eternal and unmerited grace of election is the express testimony of sacred Scripture that not all, but some only, are elected, while others are passed by in the eternal decree; whom God, out of His sovereign, most just, irreprehensible, and unchangeable good pleasure, has decreed to leave in the common misery into which they have wilfully plunged themselves, and not to bestow upon them saving faith and the grace of conversion; but, permitting them in His just judgment to follow their own ways, at last, for the declaration of His justice, to condemn and punish them forever, not only on account of their unbelief, but also for all their other sins. And this is the decree of reprobation, which by no means makes God the Author of sin (the very thought of which is blasphemy), but declares Him to be an awful, irreprehensible, and righteous Judge and Avenger thereof.

Article 16
     Those in whom a living faith in Christ, an assured confidence of soul, peace of conscience, an earnest endeavor after filial obedience, a glorying in God through Christ, is not as yet strongly felt, and who nevertheless make use of the means which God has appointed for working these graces in us, ought not to be alarmed at the mention of reprobation, nor to rank themselves among the reprobate, but diligently to persevere in the use of means, and with ardent desires devoutly and humbly to wait for a season of richer grace.  Much less cause to be terrified by the doctrine of reprobation have they who, though they seriously desire to be turned to God, to please Him only, and to be delivered from the body of death, cannot yet reach that measure of holiness and faith to which they aspire; since a merciful God has promised that He will not quench the smoking flax, nor break the bruised reed. But this doctrine is justly terrible to those who, regardless of God and of the Savior Jesus Christ, have wholly given themselves up to the cares of the world and the pleasures of the flesh, so long as they are not seriously converted to God.

Article 17
     Since we are to judge of the will of God from His Word, which testifies that the children of believers are holy, not by nature, but in virtue of the covenant of grace, in which they together with the parents are comprehended, godly parents ought not to doubt the election and salvation of their children whom it pleases God to call out of this life in their infancy (Gen. 17:7; Acts 2:39; I Cor. 7:14).

Article 18
     To those who murmur at the free grace of election and the just severity of reprobation we answer with the apostle: Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? (Rom. 9:20), and quote the language of our Savior: Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? (Matt. 20:15). And therefore, with holy adoration of these mysteries, we exclaim in the words of the apostle: O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past tracing out!  For who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counsellor? or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and unto him are all things. To him be the glory for ever. Amen. (Rom. 11:33-36).

Thursday, August 4, 2011

TURN FROM VAIN THINGS TO THE LIVING GOD

TURN FROM VAIN THINGS TO THE LIVING GOD
Acts 14:1-28                                                                        
We preach as dying man to dying people. We preach knowing that without the preaching of the gospel, none can be saved. We preach the gospel which is the power of God for salvation to those who believe – to the Jews and to the Gentiles. Knowing the terror of God we persuade men. Last Sunday – you heard of the wrath of God against His enemies – the sons of disobedience. Today we are told what to do so that we may not remain vessels of wrath preserved for destruction – we are to turn from idols to a living God.
I know that there are those who may think that they have never bowed down to sculptures or images. To them I say that you have bowed down to the idols in very very subtle manner – look you have done all it takes to get money. You spend as much time as possible so that you may get money even to the detriment of your spiritual life. You are willing to spend all your time and money on education so that you have no time to read God’s Word – in fact this last week you may not have had any time to read the Bible as you had resolved at the beginning of the year. You have had barely sufficient time of prayer because your life is full of one appointment after another with men but rarely with God – except a few hours on Sunday! Clearly, this is to show that you are serving vain things – things that you will leave behind, things that you can’t take with you to your eternal destiny, things that will not count at eternity, and things that may make you not to see God! However, my message today is that you ought to turn from all those idols, those vain things, those temporal things and think about eternity and serve the true and living God.
So then you may ask me;

1.     Why do you need to turn from idols to God?

I know that you want to know why it is very necessary and urgent that you abscond from the things which are idols. God created us in such a way that our rational minds wants to know reasons for doing things that are required. Our rational minds are more compliant with the instructions that have the motives and reasons for doing them. This is why when you speak to a child – don’t touch the ironbox, you need to accompany it with the reason why it is not in its best interest to touch it. You explain what it means to be burnt. You can even make them touch it a little bit to make the understanding easier and the instruction will be permanently engraved into the young mind.
So why are we to turn from these things described as idols or as vain things? Firstly, because they are worthy nothing. Idols will not add any value to the life of your soul. Which idol can provide food for the body or wisdom for the soul? An idol called Baal was not able to provide rain during the time of Elijah. They were helpless, even unable to preserve his own prophets! Idols called Zeus and Hermes were unable to heal a cripple in Lystra and so an attempt to name Barnabbas and Paul by names of their gods was made so that thee idols could take the credit – talk of usurpers of God’s glory! It is only God who is able to give you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness (v. 17)
Secondly, idols never pursue peace – the world appreciates peace this is why we have such organizations as the United Nations or the Red Cross. However, this is just cosmetic peace wrought by God’s common grace. It is not the peace from within that is a product of God’s special grace by His Son who by His blood has justified us and gave us peace with God (Rom. 5:1). Worldly peace does not last long but is so short-lived and temporary. When a person metes violence against the other then it is obvious that one is under the spell of idols as it was the case in Iconium, where they attempted to mistreat and stone Paul and Barnabbas. It was also the case in Lystra with the Jews who came from Antioch and Iconium, who stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city convinced that he was dead (v.19). Because these idolaters caused dissension and division, we see from this passage people who were willing to do anything to serve idols and so because of the vanity of their objects of worship they stir up and poison other people’s minds. The vanity of idols is that it does not neither can it produce peace instead it produces uproar and division, it produces blaspheme against God and violence and discord against men. Idols make its subject a short-sighted slave to violence. This is why violence is glorified in movies and television programs.
Finally, idols take away one’s ability to think soberly. Look the way they were easily convinced into violence in Iconium and Lystra. Consider the haste they had to make Paul and Barnabbas their gods as they said, "The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!" (v.11). Consider the misguided zeal they had to bring oxen and garlands to offer sacrifices to them (v.13). They could not listen to the reasonable words of Paul who told them,
"Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past generations, He allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. Yet He did not leave himself without witness, for He did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness." (Acts 14:15-17).
A depraved person would rather listen to the devil and sin rather than God because the Bible records that, “Even with these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them.” (Act 14:18). This is why they were persuaded by the Jews who came from Antioch and Iconium rather than the Apostles who had God’s inspired word.
The gospel message seeks to show men of the vanity of life without God. Riches as well as wealth are of no value when God is taken away from the picture. In the same way much learning and wisdom that does not have God, as its Source is worthless until one finds rest in God. Through king Solomon, the Lord spoke very clearly that it is all in vanity until one realizes that the whole duty of man is to fear God and keep his commandment (Ecc. 12:13).

2.     How do you turn from these vain things

The question worthy six million dollars then is how do I turn from these things to serve the true and living God? Once one has known what to do and has well embraced it, then the question is how will I do it? Until one is convinced of the need, it is not possible to act. So we ask, how do you turn from these vain things to God?
Firstly, you are to commit yourself to the gospel message. We read that the apostles and other ministers of the gospel committed to preaching the gospel message. When they went to Iconium they spoke it. They preached the gospel message to those who were willing to listen as well as to those who were opposed to it – to those who would believe as well as to those who would not (because they could not identify who would and who would not). Notice that they did not even try to make such a distinction themselves because such is God’s work. They preached even to those whose minds had been poisoned. They preached in the synagogues as well as in the open ground as long as there were audience. They were not in any hurry for we read that ‘they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord…’ when they rejected the preachers in Iconium, they fled to preach the gospel in Lystra, Derbe, cities of Lycaonia and to the surrounding country. What a commitment to preach the gospel were these ministers?
When they were at Lystra they preached a tough message against idolatry:
"Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past generations, He allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. Yet He did not leave himself without witness, for He did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness." (Acts 14:15-17). It does not matter that the crowd was not persuaded – they were committed to preaching the gospel.
Their commitment to the gospel was such that just like Peter and John earlier on had told the Sanhedrin , "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard." (Act 4:19-20). They were beaten even to the point of being half-dead so that their adversaries dragged them thinking that they were dead as it happened in Lystra when the Jews came from Antioch and Iconium following them.
So as servants of God they commended themselves in order to show their commitment to the gospel. Paul shows in 2 Corinthians what they went through in the preaching of the gospel, opening up their hearts to their hearers. (How?) “by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything. We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. (2Cor. 6:4-11). In a nutshell the beatings were numerous (2Cor. 11:23) just to show their commitment to the gospel.
Their commitment to the gospel was such that they did not just preach and go but even after they had preached and gone, they would pass by to ascertain the growth of the seed earlier on planted. This is what they did in Pisidia, Pamphylia, Perga and Attalia on their way back to their home church in Antioch.
For those of us who preach the gospel do we have the same commitment to the gospel? For each one who is a believer do you possess the same commitment to get more people come to a saving faith in Christ? It is when we are committed to the spread of the gospel that the Lord will be pleased to make believers out of the sermons.
Secondly, you are to believe the gospel. We read that when Paul and Barnabbas went to Iconium, they entered into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. Believing the gospel truth is an imperative to the turning we are talking about here. The gospel is the good news that point to Christ as the only one able to save sinners. The gospel present Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ, who was to come on earth, be born of a woman, live a perfect life here on earth, be betrayed and consequently be added into the hands of sinful men and be killed and buried. The gospel show that Jesus did not remain in the tomb but that on the third day He rose, triumphing over death and took away its sting. It depicts Jesus Christ as the one who made you alive when you were dead in your  trespasses, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. He is the One who set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. (Col 2:13-15)
The gospel message show  there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. (1Ti 2:5-6)
No one can turn away from idols without faith in Christ because He is the One who is able to save to the uttermost all those who draw near to God through Him (Heb. 7:25). I am preaching so that people may believe the gospel message as both the Jews and the Gentiles did in Iconium. We read in verse 1 that both the Jews and Greeks believed. We read in verse 21 they made many disciples in Derbe. My prayer for you is that you may believe this message and be disciple of Christ.
Thirdly, you are to be part of a local church. we read that when Paul and Barnabbas were commended by a local church in Antioch, where they were members. So as they preached in all these places they were accountable to the local church in Antioch and as soon as they completed their work they went and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. And they remained no little time with the disciples (v.27-28). Whether one is a great preacher or not he is supposed to belong to a local church to which one is accountable. Paul and Barnabbas were members of a local church – there is no Christian who is supposed to be by himself. Instead, everyone is to be part of a local expression of the body of Christ. Actually it is natural that you believe and you are joined to a local church.
It is for this reason that when they established churches among those who believed, they constituted those churches and appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed (v.23). This is because the plan of God is not only to make believers but also to make those believers into churches in which the means of grace can well be shared. Notice that there always ought to be elders for every church. Notice also that the appointment of elders is a very serious matter in the church and so they fasted and prayed, committing them to the Lord because the task that was before them was enormous.
Notice also that it is only in the context of the local church we can have the devotion to the teaching of the Word, the fellowship of the brethren, the public prayers, the breaking of bread, praising of God in one accord, the eldership, the diakonate, the brotherly love and the fellowship of other churches. 
Finally, you are to be a disciple of Christ. When a person believes and trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ, he is supposed to keep on following Him against all odds. The truth of the matter is that the genuine saving faith is the faith that remains – not a faith that lasts an hour or a week or even fifty or hundred years. Continuity to the end, by being faithful to the Master is the character of a disciple of Christ.
In this passage we see the word disciples appears severally pointing out that the converts did not continue being just converts grew to be disciples, meaning that there were devoted to the new Lord and Master and His instructions through His Word. In Lystra for example, the Bible records that, 
When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:21-22)
They encouraged them to continue in faith even through many tribulations. Clearly, tribulations are part of the blessings of the Kingdom while on earth. However, even when they come we are to remain steadfast, unmovable knowing that the Lord is near us even though He is unseen. We are to remain focused in heaven even when the world and its inhabitants are so cruel to us. Obviously because the world hates our Father, it will as well hate us as we were reminded last Sunday and so we should not worry about it when the world is against us but rather be worried when the world is happy with us.
Christ was very categorical that there is a cost of discipleship that whoever identifies with Him must factor before following Him. C.f.; 19:21
Being a disciple of Christ comes with a high cost.
1)     Cost of denying oneself - Matt. 16:24;
2)     Cost suffering - Matt. 10:38;
3)     Cost of comfort – Matt. 19:29
4)     Cost of time – Luke 9:23
5)     Cost of resources - Matt. 19:21
6)     Cost of relatives and friends – Matt. 10:35
7)     Cost of leaving some situations behind – Matt. 8:22; 9:9
Are you willing to put up the whole of this bill for the sake of Christ? Are you willing to put all your energy to follow Christ? Are you willing to leave your own family to follow Christ? Are you willing to put your resources in the kingdom of God so that heart will be there also? There is no shortcut for being a disciple of Christ. You must be willing to do that which He says in His Word. This is the mark of authentic faith. Therefore, you are to persevere in faith to the end. The true faith is the faith that perseveres in Christ up to the end. No one will be saved who abandons his faith on the way.
As a way of application then I have two things to say. First of all to the ministers of the gospel and then to everyone in this assembly:
Preachers: We are to make it easy for people to believe the gospel in our preaching without watering down the truths of the gospel. There seems to have been something remarkable in the way that the apostles preached here, which contributed to their success: They so spoke that a great multitude believed - so plainly and simply, so profoundly and convincingly, with such an evidence and demonstration of the Spirit, and with such power. They spoke so warmly and affectionately, and with such a visible concern for the souls of men because they were not only convinced but filled with the things of which they spoke. What they spoke came from the depth of their hearts and therefore was likely to reach to the hearts of their hearers. They spoke so earnestly and so seriously, so boldly and so courageously, that those who heard them could not but say that God was with them for sure.  We are therefore to be careful not to put any hindrance for the hearers of the message.
However, the success was not to be attributed to the manner of their preaching, but to the Spirit of God, who made use of that means. We rely on the Holy Spirit to bless our preaching just like a farmer does everything to prepare his shamba and expecting God to provide sufficient rain for the crop. Never should we think that our eloquence, as important as it is, can produce a single fruit. We are therefore to pray – sometimes with fasting that the Lord may be pleased to make the preaching of the gospel fruitful. 
Finally, preachers are to be willing to go through all it takes to pass the gospel across to people because the gospel is the means God uses to bring salvation to the sinners. Sometimes we are not prepared to do it but we are to do it in spite of ourselves – we are to preach the word; being ready in season and out of season to reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. (2Tim. 4:2). Sometimes we are tired, yet we are to make no excuses.
To all of us: Consider your lifestyle and ask – what are the things that count in my life? What do you spend most of your time doing? What do you spend most of your income on? What do you value most that you could leave everything else to attend to it? Take for example, if you got a text message now on your phone that you are required to go to work immediately by your boss, would you leave this service immediately and go as required? Would you take time to ask God what would be the best thing to do? Would you tell God I am willing to do your will at all cost even at the cost of your family, your job, your investments? The lesson before us is very clear - You should turn from vain things to a Living God.