Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bearing Spiritual Fruit

This past Sunday morning I preached from 1 Corinthians 4 about the Judgment seat of Christ. It is there that we will be judged for our obedience to Jesus and for the fruit that was developed in our Christian lives. The topic of bearing fruit always brings up questions and one question that I get asked occasionally is, “can someone be a Christian and never bear fruit?” Charles Ryrie, in his book, So Great Salvation, provides the following careful answer to this question:
Every Christian will bear spiritual fruit. Somewhere, sometime, somehow. Otherwise that person is not a believer. Every born-again individual will be fruitful. Not to be fruitful is to be faithless, without faith, and therefore without salvation.
Having said that, some caveats are in order.
1. This does not mean that a believer will always be fruitful. Certainly we can admit that if there can be hours and days when a believer can be unfruitful, then why may there not also be months and even years when he can be in that same condition? Paul exhorted believers to engage in good works so they would not be unfruitful (Titus 3:14). Peter also exhorted believers to add the qualities of Christian character to their faith lest they be unfruitful (2 Peter 1:8). Obviously, both of those passages indicate that a true believer might be unfruitful. And the simple fact that both Paul and Peter exhort believers to be fruitful shows that believers are not always fruitful.
2. This does not mean that a certain person’s fruit will necessarily be outwardly evident. Even if I know the person and have some regular contact with him, I still may not see his fruit. Indeed, I might even have legitimate grounds for wondering if he is a believer because I have not seen fruit. His fruit may be very private or erratic, but the fact that I do not see it does not mean it is not there.
3. My understanding of what fruit is and therefore what I expect others to bear may be faulty and/or incomplete. It is all too easy to have a mental list of spiritual fruits and to conclude if someone does not produce what is on my list that he or she is not a believer. But the reality is that most lists that we humans devise are too short, too selective, too prejudiced, and often extrabiblical. God likely has a much more accurate and longer list than most of us do. Nevertheless, every Christian will bear fruit; otherwise he or she is not a true believer. In speaking about the Judgment Seat of Christ, Paul says unequivocally that every believer will have praise come to him from God (1 Corinthians 4:5).

May God bless us to become more fruitful for Jesus!

-          Bro. Dave

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What Belongs to us in Christ?

1 Corinthians 3:21-23 (ESV)  21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's.

In Christ, everything that is needed belongs to the believer: 

a. Preachers. no matter who they are, belong to the believers. All preachers exist to serve and minister and meet the needs of God's people. If a church or a believer takes advantage of only a few preachers or of only one or two types of preachers, the church and the believer are limiting their chances to be enriched and blessed. They are limiting their growth.

b. The world, the physical universe, belongs to believers. God is going to remake the universe, that is, the heavens and the earth; and believers are to inherit it all, ruling and administering the functions of it all with Christ Jesus. 

c. Life belongs to the believers. This means real life, abundant life—a life with purpose, meaning, and significance—a life that triumphs and gains the victory over the trials and sufferings of this life.
"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).

d. Death belongs to the believers. That is, death has no sway or hold over the believers, but instead, the believer holds death in his grip through the Lord Jesus Christ. Death has been conquered by Christ.

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24).

"Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?" (John 11:25-26).

e. Present and future things belong to the believers. The believer is the heir of the world, the heir of God Himself.
"The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together" (Romans 8:16-17).

Let us live for the One through whom we have been given all things!

- Bro. Dave

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Beef Festival and Thanks...

I want to thank all of the men from our Brotherhood who worked hard on the Beef Festival this past weekend. The “Fattened Calf” BBQ team is Mike Riley, Darryl Peavler, Dwain Hahn, Varney Reed, Rudy Burgess, and Terry Honnaker. They won 1st Place in the Hamburger competition, 2nd Place in the sauce competition, 3rd place in the People’s Choice award, and they received the Grand Champion Award for best overall performance. Lauren Hahn received 2nd place in the youth competition. Our team beat out 22 teams for the top award, which included 6 professional teams! In the process of competing, hundreds of people were invited to our church, and all of the kids received an invite to our VBS. I praise God that while our men love to cook and eat meat, they love Jesus Christ more! Our men’s Brotherhood meets on the first Wednesday of each month at 7PM. 

I want to thank everyone for all of the cards, notes, visits, pranks, gifts, hugs, cookies, and calls that I have received from members of the church as congratulations for finishing my doctorate. I do not know of any pastor who has had more support and encouragement than I have received as I journeyed through this stressful process. I could not have pursued the degree without the backing and support of the deacons and the church, and I am grateful for the opportunities for which you have enabled me.  I want to thank those who worked hard in the kitchen on Sunday night and all who brought some cookies for the fellowship. I especially want to thank Donald Logue and Linda Devine who helped to plan the event. I am completely overwhelmed by your generosity and encouragement, and I give all the glory to Jesus Christ for His faithful work in my life.

This upcoming Sunday we will be hosting two teams for the Kentucky Changers ministry that is coming to Mercer County. These students have given up a week of their summer and paid money to go and work hard in the hot sun to show the love of Jesus. Be sure to shake their hand and keep them in your prayers this week as they minister. 

Praise God for all of the gifts and promises that are ours in Christ Jesus!

-       Bro. Dave