October 2012

Explore the Bible Lesson for Nov. 11: Living with Truth

October 25 2012 by Matt Capps, associate pastor for adult ministries, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem

Focal Passage: 2 Peter 1:1-21
 
More than 50 years ago Francis Schaeffer argued that the change in the concept of the way we come to knowledge and truth is the most crucial problem facing Christianity. The issue of truth is still important today. The cultural war on truth has a multifaceted and colored history.
 
Like all cultural conversation, the dispute over truth has effects on each one of us, sometimes causing doubt, sometimes causing us to feel inadequate in our understanding of the faith.
 
The apostle is clear in 2 Peter 1:12-15 that it is good to be reminded of the truth, even if one is already firmly established in the faith. The presence of false teachers is something the church has always dealt with.
 
The anchor of truth that holds believers from cultural sway often needs strengthening in the rough waters of this life.
 
So Peter reminds us of the truth of the gospel. He starts by arguing that our standing before God was accomplished by the righteousness of our Savior Jesus Christ.
 
God’s grace in Jesus provides us with all the blessings pertaining to life and death. In response to the beauty of God’s grace on our behalf, giving us a transformed heart, he pleads with us to make every effort to live a life that honors God through the power of the Spirit.
 
See, the truth of the gospel is something we never move beyond. The truth of the gospel is something that we need to be reminded of often. Only the good news of Jesus Christ has the power to stir Christians to holiness. Therefore, let us be a people who prayerfully return to the Word of God, in reliance on the Spirit of God, to live as the people of God. The truth of the gospel will stand alone eternally, long after the smoke of our cultural wars have cleared.
10/25/2012 2:59:19 PM by Matt Capps, associate pastor for adult ministries, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Nov. 11: Do Life Together

October 25 2012 by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro

Focal Passages: Acts 4:32-35; 5:1-6; 6:1-7
 
The biblical picture of the church as the body of Christ seems like a foreign concept to many Christians. Unfortunately, this model has been replaced often with secular substitutes, such as the country club, bank, family chapel or civic organization.
 
These models subtly replace Christ’s design for His church as one body with Him as the Head and many members working together for the common good (1 Corinthians 12).
 
While the biblical model clarifies the damage done to the whole body when the members don’t cooperate, secular substitutes allow and even encourage an “every man for himself” mentality that contradicts God’s intended focus on the needs of others (Philippians 2:3-4) and the ultimate goal – His glory.
 
Acts 5 begins with a strong “but” to contrast the sin of Ananias and Sapphira with the selfless giving demonstrated by the early church.
 
They played along with the structure of the church, but lacked its heart. Instead of transparently giving as they felt led by the Holy Spirit, they lied to God and His people and robbed Him of part of what they said they had given.
 
Their exceptionally bad choice showed that people who are not walking with God will not bring unity and health to the local church.
 
Sadly, Ananias and Sapphira chose their glory over God’s, and made history as two of the clearest examples of God’s ultimate discipline.
 
By the grace of God the church has been blessed with many exemplary members.
 
In Acts 6 the church chose a group of spiritually mature and wise men to make sure food was being distributed to the Greek speaking Jewish widows.
 
This “growing pain” had become a source of division in the body of Christ and required men who could be released to lead in practical areas while the apostles focused on the ministry of the Word and prayer.
 
May God give us the wisdom to develop indispensible servant leaders who show us that much can be accomplished for God when it matters little if people get any earthly credit for their service.   
10/25/2012 2:57:54 PM by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for Nov. 4: Living in Humility

October 23 2012 by Matt Capps, associate pastor for adult ministries, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem

Focal Passage: 1 Peter 5:1-14
 
Peter calls us to humility in 1 Peter 1-14. But all people, Christians as well as nonbelievers, are self-centered by nature. We are always thinking about ourselves. Sometimes we think of ourselves better than we ought. It is the pride of humanity that keeps us from honestly assessing ourselves. Other times we think about ourselves so lowly that we are driven into the pits of despair. When Peter calls us to humble ourselves, what should this look like? Moreover, how do we avoid swinging back and forth between self-righteousness and despair?
 
Let us be reminded that humility is elusive. As Tim Keller says, once you begin talking about humility, it leaves. There is a sense in which examining your own heart, even for sin, often leads to being proud about your diligence and circumspection. True humility is what C.S. Lewis called “blessed self-forgetfulness.” True humility allows one to no longer focus on themselves. As Lewis argued, humility is “not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”
 
In 1 Peter 5:5 the apostle quotes Proverbs 3:34 which proclaims that God gives grace to the humble. It is only through humility that we can receive Christ. Moreover, it is only through humility that we can continue to apply the gospel to our own lives.
 
We obtain this blessed self-forgetfulness when we begin to focus on Christ and what He has done for us in the cross and resurrection. When we truly believe the gospel of grace we are kept from swinging from pride and despair. Moreover, when we see the beauty of Jesus in the gospel, we are able relate with humility toward one another, for we are all saved by grace. Let us take the initiative to actively clothe ourselves in humility towards others, in response to passively obtaining the grace of God ourselves.
10/23/2012 3:24:18 PM by Matt Capps, associate pastor for adult ministries, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Nov. 4: Pray with Dependency

October 23 2012 by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro

Focal Passage: Acts 4:23-31
 
“But little mouse, you are not alone, in proving foresight may be vain: The best laid schemes of mice and men go often awry.” Scottish poet Robert Burns penned those words in 1785 in a poem titled, To a Mouse. He demonstrated that people are similar to mice in that they cannot guarantee the success of their endeavors. As the early church began to suffer persecution, believers knew that both Jesus’ suffering and their persecution were part of God’s predestined plan. This truth emboldened them because they knew that no level of opposition would thwart God’s plan.
 
Although Peter and John had just returned from jail, the church refused to focus its prayers on the opposition. They simply said, “Lord, take note of their threats,” and moved on to ask God to empower their preaching and accompany it with miracles (v. 29-30).
 
While we need to address spiritual warfare biblically, we must be careful to avoid reactive ministry when God has called us to a proactive declaration of the good news. Reactive ministry means the kingdom of darkness sets the church’s agenda.
 
Christians must remember that only God can bring down opposition in His way and in His timing. While we wait on His timing in one area, we can be about the Father’s business in other places where He is at work.
 
Like Peter walking on the water, the church succeeds when it keeps its eyes on Jesus. If we become distracted by our circumstances, we too will begin to sink.
 
The early church quickly experienced the winds and waves of opposition and persecution. Instead of focusing on these sources of discouragement, the people of God kept looking to Him and experienced His power once again. The same Holy Spirit who came as a rushing mighty wind on the Day of Pentecost shook the meeting place in Acts 4 and gave the church a fresh anointing.
 
Consequently, God’s people received the answer to the prayer they had just prayed (v. 29), and began to share the gospel with boldness.
 
Praise God that we go out not as mice or mere men, but Spirit-filled soldiers in God’s army.
10/23/2012 3:20:01 PM by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for Oct. 28: Living in Faith

October 11 2012 by Matt Capps, associate pastor for adult ministries, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem

Focal Passage: 1 Peter 4:12-19
 
C.S. Lewis once wrote to a friend his reflections on suffering: “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do what’s best for us, we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.”
 
Perhaps this is why Peter urges the readers of 1 Peter 4:12-19 to faithfully and unreservedly entrust themselves to God while enduring suffering.
 
In the midst of suffering, trials, and hard times it is very hard to see beyond the pain and anxiety of what lies ahead.
 
Trusting in God during the darkest period requires a rock solid belief in the gospel, and it requires the indwelling and life giving power of the Holy Spirit.
 
Peter proclaims that when fiery trials hit, and they will, we are to rejoice.
 
What strange words.
 
We are to rejoice in suffering because in them we share in sufferings of Christ. And if we share in the sufferings of Christ we can rest assured that we will also share with him in his glory.
 
Moreover, we are told that when suffering strikes the Holy Spirit rests upon us giving us a taste of what is to come. Our hope rests in the finished work of God when the very word ‘suffering’ no longer exists in the human vocabulary.
 
There will come a day when all things are made new, when God will wipe away every tear, when death shall be no more, when there will be no mourning, nor crying, nor pain.
 
As we await that day may we entrust our souls to the creator and sing with our brothers and sister the famous words penned by Horatio Spafford:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
 
10/11/2012 10:40:24 AM by Matt Capps, associate pastor for adult ministries, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Oct. 28: From Failure to Action

October 11 2012 by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro

Focal Passages: John 18:15-18, 25b-27; 21:15-19; Acts 4:13, 18-20
 
Imagine that you were mute and knew no form of sign language or handwriting. You could only communicate through demonstration, by showing people what you meant. Many people think they’ve never denied Christ because their words said otherwise, but what have they demonstrated?
 
Christians sometimes condemn Peter because of his verbal denials of Christ. While Jesus did not take these denials lightly and sent him through a difficult interrogation to reinstate him (John 21:15-19), Peter’s actions ultimately defined his words. He could have said “I love you” to Jesus in an attempt to gain His approval, but Jesus reminded Peter that love for Him is demonstrated by comparison. He asked him, “Do you love me more than these?” We don’t know whether “these” referred to the other apostles, the fishing equipment, or the other apostles’ love for Jesus, but Peter knew and had to declare his true affection for his Lord. While we love others, our love for Him should be so overwhelming that it makes our other loves seem like hate by comparison (Luke 14:26).
 
Peter demonstrated that he loved Jesus through a bold apostleship that caused spectators to marvel at his ability to boldly speak as an uneducated man. He ignored threats against preaching the gospel, helped lead the way in the spread of Christianity, wrote two epistles, and ultimately laid down his life as a martyr. Peter’s life was nothing less than the fulfillment of Jesus’ words concerning the demonstration of his love for Christ: “When you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” After prophesying of Peter’s coming death, He simply said, “Follow me.” Have you said the right things, but denied Christ through your actions? We all have at some time. Thankfully, God is gracious and restores repentant followers. We may not die as martyrs but we will not serve Christ faithfully until we die to self and make following Jesus a practice, not just a theory. You may be ashamed of where you’ve been, but you can’t imagine where God could take you! Are you ready to go from failure to action?
10/11/2012 10:39:23 AM by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for Oct. 21: Living in Community

October 9 2012 by Matt Capps, associate pastor for adult ministries, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem

Focal Passage: 1 Peter 4:1-11
 
Individualism is antithetical to community. Individualism has become one of the distinctives of modern life.
 
The sovereign autonomous self reigns in popular culture and in the heart of every person.
All around us we see selfish desires driving people to seek escape, comfort and satisfaction in the passions of the flesh.
 
And if we are honest, we are just as broken on the inside as the people we usually point to on the outside. But for us, it is more comfortable to hide our brokenness by covering it up and acting as if everything is OK, especially around our local church community.
 
But in 1 Peter 4:8-10 we are able to see into the window of a community of believers that express selfless love for one another earnestly, accepting each other as they are, more importantly, as they are in Christ.
 
We see a community of believers that are focused on serving one another instead of looking out to satisfy their own needs.
 
It is in this type of environment that we receive spiritual nurture, but also one in which deep-seated problems will come to the surface and will receive treatment. In a community marked by gospel love, hospitality and service everyone is free to rest on the grace of God and be open about who they really are. Dietrich Bonheoffer once said that “the pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner … but the fact is, we are sinners.” While others may find their joy in satisfying their own desires and projecting a self-reliant image of themselves to the world, we as a community of Christians must find our joy in Christ. And when we do, we will count it joy to serve others. Moreover, we will feel the freedom to be reliant on the only One to whom belongs glory and dominion forever and ever.
10/9/2012 1:06:01 PM by Matt Capps, associate pastor for adult ministries, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Oct. 21: From Failure to Correction

October 9 2012 by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro

Focal Passages: Exodus 15:19-21; Numbers 12:1-3, 8-13, 15
 
When I was young we had a pastor who shared his testimony in so many sermons that many of our church members could recite it with him.
 
While we are quick to skip reruns in life, certain things need to be repeated frequently.
Just as the Lord told the people of Israel to constantly put the law of God before their children (Deuteronomy 6), He also repeatedly reminded them that He was (and is) “the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt” (ex. Exodus 20:2).
 
In Exodus 15 we find Moses and Miriam leading the original occasion of praising God for delivering His people by parting the Red Sea.
 
When we praise God we strengthen the faith of His people by retelling of His sovereign leadership in our lives.
 
Sadly, we are prone to forget the goodness of God.
 
When this happens people who were overwhelmed by the awesome power of God begin to divide over their differences instead of unite through the common ground of God’s grace.
 
Miriam, who had danced with a tambourine and sung in response to Moses’ song of praise to God after the parting of the Red Sea, later joined Aaron to become a chief critic of Moses for marrying an Ethiopian woman.
 
Not only were they not praising God for His deliverance, but they were also questioning whether there was anything unique about Moses as the prophet of his people.
 
Although they saw themselves as equal recipients of the voice of God, He corrected their jealous conclusion and struck Miriam with seven days of leprosy.
 
A critical spirit will rob God of praise, and cause believers to glorify themselves and turn on each other. We can’t keep our eyes on Him and us.
 
When we accept God’s correction we agree with Him that we have sinned and respond with repentance.
 
We abandon the search for a spiritual defense attorney, because we know we were wrong.
 
If we humbly accept God’s discipline we will grow spiritually, despite the pain, and set an example for other believers.
10/9/2012 1:03:57 PM by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro | with 0 comments