Christians are called to freedom, yet this freedom is not a libertarian freedom in which we simply get to do whatever we want. In fact, the Bible explains several qualifications of our freedom that indicate that our freedom is constrained. In Galatians 5:13-26 we are told that there are two key constraints to our freedom and the path we choose is clearly demonstrated.
The parable of the vine and its branches is a rich passage that Jesus used to explain four functions that are part of our union with Christ. Some people think this parable conveys something of the substance of the relationship of the branches and the vine, but this causes an interpretive issue that is inconsistent with the rest of scripture. This is a sermon I preached last Sunday which explains 4 functions of our union with Christ that Jesus explains using this parable.
I’ve spent lots of time thinking about our union with Christ in His death and resurrection lately. It is a crucial theological issue, essentially the hub around which all other doctrines about our salvation are centered. Recently I was able to preach on Colossians 3:1-4, one of the central passages dealing with our participation with Christ’s resurrection.
In Colossians 3:1-2 Paul commands because Christ is in heaven and because we are united with Him (Eph 2:6) the focus and direction of our life should be heavenward, and the attention of our minds will determine this direction. Then in verses 3-4 Paul provides an additional consequence of our union with Christ in His resurrection – the anticipation of being joined with Him in glory when He returns.
One of my favorite Psalms is Psalm 32. I’ve preached it previously, and last Sunday I had the privilege to preach at our church, Placerita Baptist Church. This Psalm provides us with six steps to go from Misery to Joy, and traces David’s journey after his sin with Bathsheba in 1 Sam 11-12, from the place of misery caused by his own sin to the joy that results from the realization of God’s forgiveness.
1 Corinthians 15 is focused on the centrality of the resurrection. But as Paul begins, he focuses on his own experience of the resurrection. As I was studying this passage earlier this year I wanted to try and understand what Paul was getting at in 1 Cor 15:8-11. As he finishes describing appearances of Christ after His resurrection he concludes,
…and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
Paul saw his live as powered by the grace which God had extended to him. This has practical ramifications for us today.
One of the lessons the Lord has been teaching me over the last few years is humility, for which I’m grateful.
Last weekend in our adult Sunday School class I had the opportunity to teach on one of the main passages that I have been dwelling on.
We covered 1 Peter 5:1–7 but particularly focused on verse 5-7.
You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
I had the privilege of preaching twice in New Zealand recently during our Christmas break and thought I’d share one of those sermons here. I preached the same sermon both times. This is the longer of the two from Riverbend Bible Church in Hastings.
This sermon was originally preached in August at Placerita Baptist Church (our current church), and is based on El Roi – the name that Hagar gave to God in Genesis 16.
If you are particularly stuck for something to do you can watch it (in black and white for some reason) from here.
Otherwise, the audio is below.