July 2009

Formations lesson for Aug. 9: Practice Discernment

July 28 2009 by John Carpenter, Pastor, Covenant Reformed Baptist Church, Yanceyville

Focal passage: 1 John 2:18-27

“It is the last hour” (2:18).

The Apostle John means the last revelations have been made: Jesus has come and sent His apostles.

From Pentecost to the Second Coming are the last days. So there is not another prophet coming, either in a cave in Arabia or the woods of America. In these “last days” antichrist is coming, many antichrists.

Only this letter and 2 John mentions “antichrist” in the Bible.

It can mean, “anti” against Christ, but also in place of Christ.

These are either people who try to take the leadership, glory, authority, given only to Christ, or people who teach against Christ, deny that He is who He said He is.

And there are, he says in verse 18, many of them.

But with so many of them, how will you be able to tell a faithful teacher from an antichrist?

First, in 2:19, the antichrists go out from the church, they don’t stay accountable to a God-centered, Bible teaching church.

In our day, of course, they’ll just form their own church but we’ll know whether they have left the true church by whether they fellowship with other orthodox churches; if they see themselves as the only true church, then that is a red-flag.

But John makes clear that the false teachers, the antichrists, arise from the church, at first appearing to be true believers.

Membership in the church is no guarantee that a man belongs to Christ. Notice how John puts it, in 2:19: “They went out from us but they were never of us.”

Yes, they appeared to be of us. But even then they were not really of us. It’s not as though they lost their salvation. They never really had it. We know that now because they dropped out. This shows us what is wrong in thinking that our only needed evidence of salvation is an emotional experience. And with allowing people to remain “members” for years who have not attended church.

Second, you’ll know the many antichrists because of the Holy Spirit in you. In 2:20, the Holy One is Jesus and He has bestowed on all His true people the Holy Spirit who will lead us into all truth (John 16:13).

In 2:27 John tells them that they, or we now as a church, don’t need these outside, unknown questionable “teachers” because we have the Holy Spirit, opening our eyes and giving us reliable teachers.

Does your church expect members to attend? Do you trust the teachers of your church, especially your pastor, or pay more attention to people on TV?

7/28/2009 6:22:00 AM by John Carpenter, Pastor, Covenant Reformed Baptist Church, Yanceyville | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life lesson for Aug. 9: Have You Found Your Place?

July 28 2009 by Catherine Painter, author, speaker, Trinity Baptist Church, Raleigh

Focal passages: Exodus 35:30-36:1; Jeremiah 1:4-8; Colossians 3:16-17

Mary stopped me between Sunday School and worship.

“Will you teach our class?” she asked. “Our teacher has moved.”

 “Yes, get me a teacher’s quarterly,” I answered.

“Don’t you want to pray about it?”

“No. You have a need and God has prepared me to meet it. Why should I pray about it? Let’s get started.”

Discovering God’s will is not always that easy.

You may be struggling today with some area of your life that God didn’t address in the Bible.

We all struggle at times, but there are ways we can know we’re in God’s will. For example, the Bible says that it isn’t God’s will that any should perish (2 Pet. 3:9).

Are you a child of God? If you are, you’re in God’s will.

Do you read the Bible? We can’t know God’s will without reading His book.

Romans 12 contains the perfect explanation of being in His will.

Once a Christian asked me if God would OK her marrying a non-believer.

When I showed her 2 Corinthians 6:14, she agreed to consider it. Until we obey God’s word, we’re not in His will.

Are we verbally sharing our faith?

I asked my Sunday School class that question, and someone answered, “I just let my life be my witness.”

My problem with that is two-fold: lives can’t speak; only lips speak, and without sharing our faith, we ignore Christ’s Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20).

Perhaps the world has convinced us that we must accomplish something spectacular.
Not true with God.

We can’t be sure that Bezalel and Oholiab (Ex. 35:30-36:1) felt they were in God’s perfect will while constructing the temple, but God used their skills for His glory. While we do what God gifted us to do, we’re in His will. What we leave behind when we die may not be engraved in monuments, but if we’ve woven faith into the lives of others, we’ll hear, “Well done” (Matt. 25).

Perhaps we will not have lived God’s perfect plan (see Jer.1:4-5), but God’s grace covers imperfect choices, and when Christians miss God’s ultimate plan, He’ll use what we do offer Him.

A friend’s recent advice places us smack in the middle of God’s will: “Let’s live in such a way that when our feet hit the floor in the morning, the devil says, ‘Oh, no, they’re awake.’”

7/28/2009 6:20:00 AM by Catherine Painter, author, speaker, Trinity Baptist Church, Raleigh | with 1 comments



Formations lesson for August 2: Sin Wisely

July 20 2009 by John Carpenter, pastor, Covenant Reformed Baptist Church, Yanceyville

Focal Passage: 1 John 1:5-2:2

Claims

In 2007 Pittsburgh Steelers safety Anthony Smith claimed they would definitely beat the New
England Patriots.

Not only could he not back up his claim, the Patriots specifically beat him, twice, for two long touchdowns.

People claim all kinds of things they can’t back up.

In verses 6, 8, 10, John says, “If we say,” and in 2:4, “Whoever says.”

These are the claims people make. To be a Christian is to make claims.

First and foremost, we claim truths about Jesus. Our claim is that Jesus is the Word of Life, from the beginning.

Pseudo-Christians claim they do not sin or that sin is not important.

In their day many believed that the real me was the spirit.

The body was just a cage and so what my body does is not really me doing it.

That was their way of excusing sin. We deny we sin by trivializing it.

We’ll talk about delicious foods being “sinfully fattening.”

Many so-called Christians today claim they are “saved” and yet think they can sin freely.

If we claim that our souls are saved while we dedicate our mouths to gossip or our eyes to pornography or our minds to greed or our hands to abuse, John has two simple words for us, “We lie.”

First (1:6), we lie to the world to claim one thing and live another way. Second (1:8), we lie to ourselves if we are not aware of our sins.

And then (1:10), we call God a liar. By claiming we’re fine, we’re saying God is not.

We claim to have sin. If we say the same things (“confess”) about sin that God says, then He will forgive us. Here John says that God forgives because He is faithful and just, not lenient and lax.

He is just because, in 2:2, Jesus is the propitiation for our sins, the atoning sacrifice. Notice that it takes blood to cleanse us from sin.

Blood is costly. It takes that blood to cleanse us of sin because our sins are that expensive, that serious.

We claim that He’s the one who paid the price for our sins and so we walk in His ways.

Love and obedience go hand-in-hand. If you’re not obeying, you’re not loving.

Friends, we can’t make claims our life doesn’t back up. If we are to be one of God’s people, in fellowship with Him, then, John concludes in verse 6, we ought to walk the same way He walked. If we’re not walking with Him, then we need to confess and be truly saved.

7/20/2009 4:53:00 AM by John Carpenter, pastor, Covenant Reformed Baptist Church, Yanceyville | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life lesson for Aug. 2: Do You See the Big Picture?

July 20 2009 by Catherine Painter, author, speaker, Trinity Baptist Church, Raleigh

Focal Passages: 2 Peter 3:8-9; 1 Thess. 4:1-5; I Thess. 5:15-22

Years ago, a woman out West wrote, “I read your Sunday school lessons and believe you can help me. I became a Christian at 11 and have doubted my salvation ever since. At first, my pain was emotional; now it’s physical. At 81, I know I won’t live on and on. If I die tonight, however, I have no idea where I’ll wake up. I don’t share my doubt because everyone assumes I’m saved. I’m a regular worshiper and have served in various leadership roles in the church. Will you help?”

I shared Christ with her, how to accept Christ’s assurance, and asked her to write again to say how things are going.

She wrote, “For the first time since childhood, I sleep in peace knowing I’ll wake up in heaven when I die.”
Perhaps you’ve prayed for someone for years, yet the person has not accepted Christ.

Peter wrote that Christ delays His coming because He’s patient, “not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).

Christ’s delay provides us time for evangelism.

No lost person wanders into a church crying, “Find me; I’m lost.”  

Jesus counts on us to find the lost (see Matt. 28:19-20). He has no other plan.

Next, the big picture includes moral purity.

Our lives must prove what we profess to believe. A Christian friend shares that when opportunity arises for infidelity, his response is ready. He asks himself, “Why would I order hamburger when I have steak at home?”

A safeguarded life, with strategy in place ahead of attack, avoids temptation; and, because God makes His will known through His word, we’re wise to make Bible study a priority.

Paul wrote that Christians should live “not with lustful desires, like the Gentiles who don’t know God” (1 Thess. 4:3,5).

Finally, the big picture reveals God’s desire for us to pursue “what is good for one another and for all” (5:15).

An unknown poet said it well:

Isn’t it strange that princes and kings, and clowns that caper in sawdust rings,
And common people like you and me are builders for eternity?
Each is given a bag of tools, a shapeless mass, a book of rules;
And each will make, before life has flown, a stumbling block or a stepping stone
.”

7/20/2009 4:52:00 AM by Catherine Painter, author, speaker, Trinity Baptist Church, Raleigh | with 2 comments



Formations lesson for July 26: Sodom: A City in Need of Intercession

July 14 2009 by John Carpenter, pastor, Covenant Reformed Baptist Church, Yanceyville

Focal Passage: Genesis 18:16-33

Corporate bodies, like nations, cities, or even churches, have a culture, a character that generally describes the whole, if not every individual.

Kind, righteous Germans living in Berlin in 1945 suffered alongside the cruelest Nazi because even the kind and righteous in Hitler’s Germany were part of that depraved nation.

So too, an unbelieving, arrogant city — or church — contaminates the best in their midst.

Abraham is told that the notorious Sodom was to be destroyed.

The Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave” (Gen. 18:20). Abraham is no Jonah. He seeks God’s mercy, even for that depraved society.

Abraham pleads that God not sweep away the righteous with the wicked.

“Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” (18:25).

So the Lord says that even if there are only 50 righteous people in the entire city, He will spare it.

But Abraham knows there may not even be 50 righteous left in that filth. Sodom’s sin was sexual perversion; it was saturated in “the sensual conduct of the wicked” (2 Peter 2:7), particularly homosexuality.

Many in our day are seeking to justify this and all forms of eroticism — the uninhibited search for fulfilling our sexual passions.

Every second $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography. So we now live in a sex-soaked culture.

Abraham must know the permeating and polluting effect of rampant eroticism. So he carefully, respectfully pleads with God. He gets God down to 10.

If there are 10 righteous, he’ll spare the city. Abraham is satisfied that surely in a city that size, there’ll at least be 10.

Even he was too optimistic.

The Lord only found one: Lot. His wife looked back, too attached to that depraved society. His daughters molested him, so twisted in their minds by the perversion they saw in Sodom. Sodom may have been in need for intercession but even the best intercessor wasn’t good enough.

In this case, the Lord didn’t sweep away the righteous with the wicked. But He only found one and rescued that one.

Sodom was finally a city in need of destruction as are all societies that surrender to eroticism.
Peter tells us that what happened to Sodom was a foretaste of the judgment to come on the whole world.

And yet, no matter how bad things get before the end, the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial (2 Peter 2:6-10).

Meanwhile, like Abraham, we need to be interceding.


7/14/2009 2:46:00 AM by John Carpenter, pastor, Covenant Reformed Baptist Church, Yanceyville | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life lesson for July 26: Key Questions about the Triune God

July 14 2009 by Catherine Painter, author, speaker, Trinity Baptist Church, Raleigh

Focal Passages: Matt. 3:16-17; 1 Cor. 2:12-13; Eph. 1:3-14

 “I wish I understood the Trinity,” I moaned. My husband Jack groaned in return, “I wish I did too.” Then he compared the Trinity with the three-in-one egg: shell, white, and yolk; and with water: (liquid), gas (steam), and solid (ice). His illustrations helped, but questions remained.

1. Why is the concept of the Trinity important? (Eph.1: 3-14). Answer: Without the Father, creation wouldn’t exist. Without the Son, we’d have no Savior to redeem us, and without the Holy Spirit, there’d be no Counselor to guide us.

2. How can we know that God is Three? Answer: While the word Trinity is not in the Bible, the doctrine is assumed. Paul’s benedictions to churches praise Three Persons. (See 2 Corinthians 13:14.)  

The Trinity took part in Mary’s Annunciation (Luke 1:30-35), and at Jesus’ baptism, the Father spoke from heaven, the Son was baptized, and the Spirit descended in the form of a dove (Matthew 3:16-17). The dove, the only bird sacrificed in the Jewish Temple, symbolized Jesus’ earthly mission—to die for our sins.

3. How might we understand God’s mysterious nature? (See 1 Cor. 2:12-13.)

Answer: While we needn’t explain the Trinity to believe it, it’s impossible for the Spirit to render His greatest benefits when His presence goes unrecognized.

I came to know the Spirit, rather than know about Him, while filling an extensive vacancy for a choral teacher. Until then, I referred to the Spirit as “it.” Daily planning periods provided me opportunities to write. As pages accumulated, I needed three paper clips to separate chapters.

When I reached for clips in Joe’s desk, the Spirit convicted me that the clips were not mine to take.

I justified, “If Joe were here, he would give me the clips.”

The Spirit responded, “The clips are not Joe’s; he’s only a steward over them. They belong to the school system.” Convicted, I withdrew my hand, deciding to buy clips on my way home.

But Satan persisted. There was no harm in taking three clips; that many could disappear on any given day. I opened the drawer and fingered them. Then I recalled that Jesus quoted Scripture when He was tempted. I said, “Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). I closed the drawer and drove to the store on my way home.

7/14/2009 2:44:00 AM by Catherine Painter, author, speaker, Trinity Baptist Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments



Formations lesson for July 19: Nazareth: A City in Need of Correction

July 6 2009 by John Carpenter, pastor, Covenant Reformed Baptist Church, Yanceyville

Focal Passage: Luke 4:16-30

Some people think they can be saved just because they belong to the right group: they’re Americans, or Israelites, or the right race, or they are members of the Baptist church.

In Luke 4, Jesus begins His public ministry. He started in a synagogue.

“Synagogue” literally means an assembly, what the Greek word behind “church” also means.

And He started with the Bible.

He quotes from Isaiah 61:1-2: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.”

That was His way of saying that He was the “anointed one,” literally the Messiah.

At first things began well.

The people are amazed that this young man, from a carpenter’s home, is so well-spoken.

But then He begins to bring out the implications of what He’s just read. He’s implied He’s a prophet.

But prophets aren’t accepted in their hometown.

Some churches will see a boy grow from a silly rascal to a serious man of God.

But because every time they look at him they only see the kid who used to run around the church in shorts, they can’t take seriously his message from God. They may be entertained by his speaking.

But to them, it’s just entertainment.

A church that can’t look past the messenger to the message, that treats preaching as a form of entertainment (not an opportunity to repent) is a church in need of correction.

The Lord Jesus then slams their assumption that they are God’s people simply because they are Israelites.

Elijah went to a non-Israelite for safety; Elisha healed a non-Israelite leper.

His point, in the words of the Apostle Paul: “Not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel . ... It is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God” (Romans 9:6, 8).

That is, no one is one of God’s people simply by being born into the right family, nation or even church.

Salvation is not inherited like a family heirloom.

Religious hypocrites — who trust in something other than the work of Christ for their salvation — hate to have their salvation questioned.

They hate the suggestion that they may not be one of God’s people.

That’s why one of the most dangerous things a modern pastor can do (for his employment) is to suggest to life-less church members that they may not really be saved.

In Luke 4:29, they try to kill the Lord Jesus. Today the hypocrites will try to have the pastor fired. Both are in need of correction.

7/6/2009 3:47:00 AM by John Carpenter, pastor, Covenant Reformed Baptist Church, Yanceyville | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life lesson for July 19: Living in the Spirit

July 6 2009 by Catherine Painter, author, speaker Trinity Baptist Church, Raleigh

Focal Passages: Gen. 1:2; John 7:37-39; Acts 4:29-31; 5:3-4; 1 Cor. 12:4-7

In her book, The Hat on the Hall Tree, a minister’s wife discussed her dealing with church members.

She wrote, “I keep a hat on the hall tree. When the doorbell rings, I put on my hat before opening the door. If I like the person, I say, ‘You’ve caught me at a good time; I was just coming in.’ If I don’t want to be bothered, I say, ‘You’ve caught me at a bad time; I was just going out.’”

One thing is clear: the Holy Spirit did not control her life.

Who is the Holy Spirit?

He is God, the third person of the Trinity.

Genesis 1 says that He was active in creation.

He is neither an “it” nor an impersonal being.

He is God with all the attributes of Jesus.

Before He died, Jesus promised, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth” (John 14:16-17).

“When He comes, He will convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment” (John 16:7-8).

I experienced His attributes while driving out West. Entering Arizona, I noted a “Welcome to Arizona” sign.

Soon a patrolman stopped me.

“Lady,” he said, “you were traveling ten miles over the speed limit” (Conviction).

“Before you crossed the line, there was a sign noting the correct speed” (Righteousness).

“I didn’t see it,” I said. “I was admiring your welcome sign.”

Unimpressed, he replied, “Here’s your ticket” (Judgment).

Imagine with me that an unrepentant sinner dies.

God charges, “You broke my laws” (Sin), but “I provided a sign, the Cross, whereby you might be saved” (Righteousness).

The sinner might plead, “I didn’t see the cross. My eyes were on the world.”

Jesus will answer (John 14:6), “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Judgment).

Years ago, a startling news headline read: Princess Diana and companion dead.

Her intoxicated driver was traveling ninety miles an hour through a Paris tunnel, and Diana was not wearing a seatbelt.

I cried, “Lord, I pray that Diana was not traveling so fast that she missed seeing the cross.”

Let’s survey the cross — while we have time.

Eternity depends on it.      

7/6/2009 3:46:00 AM by Catherine Painter, author, speaker Trinity Baptist Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments