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Thursday, July 26, 2007

"Justification and Regeneration" by Bro. Charles Leiter

Charles Leiter is a friend of mine and a man who, in God’s wonderful providence, has had a big impact on my life and especially on my understanding of Scripture. So you can imagine how excited I was when the news broke that HeartCry Missionary Society had finally published his book on the subject of “Justification and Regeneration.” Now if you’re like a lot of Christians today, that title won’t have you running to the bookstore to try and buy a copy for yourself– it just sounds too academic (besides, the book is only available on HeartCry's website -- But even though the title sounds merely academic, nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve rarely found a book – other than the Bible – to be so filled with such a high degree of Christ-centered, soul-liberating truth as this one.

Brother Charles has managed to put in a very brief and readable way, some of what I consider to be the New Testament’s most basic and important teaching on the nature of salvation. Here, a believer will learn not only what Christ has done to rescue sinners, but also how this marvelous work of salvation has set us free from sin’s power and liberated us forever to live new lives to the praise of God’s glorious grace.

For example, Bro. Leiter says on pages 106 - 107,

“In practical terms . . . Christians are not laboring to achieve a life that they do not yet have or to obtain a victory that has not yet been won. They are participants in the very life of Christ and in the victory He has already won. Christian, you are a partaker of the resurrection life of Christ, and He has already defeated and broken the power of the sin that you are facing right now – by His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension! As a participant in His life, your calling is not to try to achieve something for yourself that He has not achieved, but to believe what He has already done for you and to walk in it. In this way you will be enabled to fight “the good fight of faith” instead of the miserable struggle of unbelief!

The same is true of our battle against the powers of darkness. We constantly need to be reminded of the fact that Satan has already been defeated by Christ on the cross and that “in Christ” we are seated “far above” all the hosts of evil.” We should read Ephesians 6:12 in light of this present reality: "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the [defeated] rulers, against the [dethroned] powers, against the [subjugated] world forces of this darkness, against the [vanquished] spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places" As we humbly "submit ourselves to God and resist the devil," we have the promise that even this roaring lion will "flee" before God's otherwise defenseless sheep! Glory to God!" (emphasis in the original)

I cannot recommend this wonderful book strongly enough. Go get yours today!

In Jesus,

S. Scott Lee

PS - Just to wet your appetite, here are the chapter titles from "Justification and Regeneration" Sin: Man's Ultimate Problem; Can a Man Be Right Before God; Justification: It's Characteristics; Regeneration: All Things New; A New Creation; A New Man; A New Heart; A New Birth; A New Nature; Crucifixion and Resurrection; A Change of Realms: Flesh to Spirit; A Change of Realms: Earth to Heaven; A Change of Realms: Sin to Righteousness; A Change of Realms: Law to Grace; A Change of Realms: Adam to Christ.

In addition, Brother Charles includes four helpful appendices to a) summarize his teaching; b)to help explain the much debated Romans 7; c) to explain what John means when he says a Christian "Cannot Sin"; and d) to give a marvelous run down of all the blessings that are ours "in Christ." That last one alone would be worth the price of the book! Go get yours today!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Love is Hard

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another,
even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
"By this all men will know that you are My disciples,
if you have love for one another."
John 13:34-35

Sitting at the heart of the Christian faith is a command to love! We love Him because He first loved us (1 Jn 4:19); and we love each other because He is in us (1 Jn 4:7-8). Loving, in fact, begins within the fellowship of the church! One way to think of it is to see that both our families and our church are meant to be “nurseries of love.” That is, these are the places where we must learn how to give and receive real love!

There are differences between them, of course. Love comes quite naturally within a family – at least at first. And love tends to remain in a family unless something terrible happens to rip it apart (which is tragically all too common today). But within the church it’s different. When you first enter a new church fellowship, there is an attraction, certainly. All Christians share a common bond that draws us together in Christ. But no matter how strong that bond may be, there are other factors that tend to work against it: Different temperaments and backgrounds; different ways of thinking and doing things; different likes and dislikes. All these conspire to make loving each other hard, especially when any kind of conflict develops.

One thing I’ve come to see over the years, is that God allows believers to experience a certain amount of conflict in their relationships for a very simple reason. When there is perfect agreement between us, love doesn’t have to work very hard. It’s easy to love you when we see eye to eye on everything. But it’s when we have struggle to understand each other and have to fight to hear what the other is saying and why, that love’s muscles get their needed exercise. It’s when we begin to irritate one another just a bit, that love must be consciously practiced. That's true in your natural family, it's true in your church family as well.

I think one of the biggest mistakes believers make today is assuming, like a very foolish young husband once told me he assumed, that "Love should be easy. We shouldn't have to work at it so hard." How foolish indeed. All human love involves work -- usually hard work. It involves patience and tears and prayers, and saying "I'm sorry" and "I forgive you". It requires walking with Christ by faith, and continuing to walk with Him until something of His power to love "rubs off" on us and can be seen in us as we relate to one another. Without that real love cannot exist.

May God help us learn the practice of this Christ-like love as we continue to walk with Him.

Learning to love and be loved in Jesus!

Pastor Scott

Monday, July 2, 2007

Holiday Mesages and Invitations

One of the newsgroups I'm part of was having a discussion about whether or not pastor's should preach "holiday messages" on Mother's Day, etc, and whether every message must have a gospel invitation. For what it's worth, here are my two bits.

As far as holiday sermons are concerned, after 16 years of pastoring the same church, I think I've said about all I can about "Mother's Day", etc...and I have rarely seen any real Kingdom benefit come out of giving into Hallmark Card Sentimentality . Instead, it's long been my practice to preach verse by verse through God's Word. When a message coincides well with a Holiday, like it did this past week (We were in Romans 13:1-6 and it was near the 4th of July!) that's wonderful. If not, I may mention the cultural event, but little more. Above all I want to make it my goal to build solid truth into the lives of our people with the same balance and emphasis that I find in the Word. Now, having said that, I may sometimes take advantage of a Holiday to speak on biblical themes related to them, but I do not feel bound or constrained to do so. As a baptist I do not feel bound by any sort of liturgical calendar (catholic or cultural)

As far as 'invitations' are concerned, it surely must come down to what is meant by such. I have seen some so-called invitations which were ungodly, manipulative attempts to wrest a "decision" out of people who'd not been told the Gospel and had no idea what they were "deciding for". Ever since Charles Finney introduced his so-called "new measures" with the idea of developing methods that could be used to 'draw the net" and "bring people in"...ever since those days some preachers have believed it was in their own power to force a change upon the heart and so press for that which only God can give through the power of the Gospel.

But, if by invitation what is meant is calling on people with passion to hear and apply the Gospel Word they've just heard, and turn from sin to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ who lived, died nad rose again, to flee from the wrath to come and put their whole hope in nothing but Christ's finished work on the cross -- well then, praise the Lord -- and why wait to the "end" of the sermon for such urging? Why not at any and every point in the message where the Scriptures point to Christ?

Just my two bits....

Pastor Scott
To God be the Glory,