Roots of the Faith – The Clarity of Scripture

My sermon notes for Wednesday night, Nov 30th. Remember, these are my personal study notes and not a manuscript of the sermon. They are provided as an outline each week for our Tabernacle Church family. Our study over the next few months will be “The Roots of the Faith.” This study will focus on key biblical truths that will transform our thinking and allow us to faithfully live out the Christian life. The church provides a live stream of the service each Wednesday at 6:30 on Facebook. We also provide the services through YouTube. You can find Sermon Notes, Family Devotional Guides, Prayer List, and other resources at our Church Website.

Helpful Resources for this Study

50 Core Truths of the Christian Faith – Gregg R. Allision

Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine – Wayne Grudem

Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth – John MacArthur & Richard Mayhue

INTRO

  • Can we understand the Bible?
  • What does it take for me to learn the meaning of the Bible?
  • Why do so many people disagree over biblical matters of life?
  • Deut 6:6-7

Scripture is written in such a way that it can be understood by God’s people. (Gregg Allison, pg. 39)

The clarity of Scripture means that the Bible is written in such a way that it is able to be understood, but right understanding requires time, effort, the use of ordinary means, a willingness to obey, and the help of the Holy Spirit; and our understanding will remain imperfect in this lifetime (Wayne Grudem, pg. 109)

The Bible affirms its own clarity

  • Psalm 19:7; 119:130
  • We can know and understand.
  • It is progressive in nature.
  • We never learn everything.

We should not expect EVERYONE to grasp the truths of Scripture

  • 1 Cor 2:1, Luke 18:34
  • Can an unconverted person understand?
  • It is the spirit that teaches, guides, and illuminates.

Why do Christians misunderstand Scripture?

  • We are all sinful and fall short of God’s standard.
    • We need better hermeneutics (methods of interpretation).
      • The method of our study.  The process we utilize
    • We need better exegesis (process of interpreting a text).
      • The work of the study.  What does the text mean?

The role of teachers/scholars/theologians

  • They fulfill the office of teacher – 1 Cor 12:28.
    • They utilize their giftedness to build up the body.  A tool to help us understand more clearly.

Practical Considerations

  • There will be differences over minor doctrine, so there is liberty
  • See THEOLOGICAL TRIAGE on pastorjonbeck.com under topical studies
    • Major verse minor
  • Liberal Churches do not take the Bible as inerrant and infallible
    • All of Scripture is not true
    • Part truth, but not all
  • The lost world will never grasp the Bible as God’s Word
    • To them there is no absolute truth

Requirements for understanding scripture rightly

1. Time

2. Effort

3. The Use of Ordinary Means

  • Using a translation of the Bible in one’s own language
  • Listening to teachers of the Word, for God has given the gift of teaching to the church (1 Cor. 12:28).
  • Reading of commentaries where available, for these are merely the written form of what is taught by teachers in the church.
  • Being aware of the wisdom contained in the history of interpretation of the church (even if this only comes not firsthand but through reading commentaries that reflect some knowledge of that tradition).
  • Seeking understanding in fellowship with others, as in small group Bible studies (or at academic conferences).
  • Using modern tools such as concordances, Hebrew and Greek lexicons, grammars, and sources of historical background information, which help modern readers understand more precisely the sense of the original language and the historical context in which a passage was written.

4. A Willingness to Obey

5. The Help of the Holy Spirit

6. A Humble Recognition That Our Understanding Is Imperfect

7. The Reasons for These Requirements

We might ask why God did not give us something simpler, something where our understanding would be instantaneous and automatic? Perhaps for several reasons:

  1. The Complexity of the Subject Matter. God communicated to human beings in Scripture with the purpose of guiding the entire belief system and the lifelong conduct of billions of different people in hundreds of cultures throughout centuries of history. Communication sufficient for this task must necessarily be quite extensive and intricate. An infinite God is telling us about himself and his purposes in all creation! The subject matter is vast.
  2. The Value of Relationship. God delights to teach us in relationship with himself. The prayers for understanding that are found in Scripture (see section B.5 above) indicate an awareness that Scripture is rightly understood only in personal relationship with God, only in a context of prayer for his presence and his help in right understanding.
  3. The Value of a Lifelong Process. God causes us to delight in the process of growing in likeness to him. Growth in understanding Scripture is merely part of the larger process of growth in sanctification, and God in his wisdom has ordained that sanctification is a process, a lifelong journey.

God seems to delight in process, for he delights in gradually disclosing his glory over time. He took delight in creating the world not in one day but in six. He took delight in promising that the seed of the woman would bruise the head of the serpent and then in preparing the way for thousands of years so that “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law” (Gal. 4:4). He has taken delight in building and purifying his church for the past two thousand years.

And he takes delight when we continually increase in the knowledge of himself and his ways through his Word:

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Col. 1:9–10)

The process of understanding more of Scripture and more of God is one that will never end in this life. I expect that it will never end even in the age to come. We are finite and we can rejoice in the unending and delightful process of learning more about our infinite Creator[1]


[1] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Second Edition. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 2020), 113–122.

1 Corinthians 16:5-24

My sermon notes for Sunday morning, Nov 13th.  Remember, these are my personal study notes and not a manuscript of the sermon. They are provided as an outline each week for our Tabernacle Church family. The church provides a live stream of the service each Sunday at 10:30 on Facebook. We also provide the services through YouTube by Sunday afternoon.  You can find Sermon Notes, Family Devotional Guides, Prayer List, and other resources at our Church Website.

1 Corinthians 16:5-24 A Picture of Faithful Ministry

INTRO

  • In Paul’s closing words we see a great picture for ministry
  • While we may not be a modern day Paul, we are called to serve the Lord faithfully.
  • Paul gives us a great example to learn from and follow after.

A desire to make a kingdom difference – vv. 5-9

A whatever and whenever attitude

  • The balance between God’s will and our will
  • Our passions
  • His purpose
  • Bloom where you are planted
  • James 4:13-17

Look for Gospel opportunities

  • Wide door for effective work – v. 9a
  •  MAKING MEMORIES (For us or for the LORD)

Expect many Challenges – v. 9b

  • Many adversaries – 2 Cor 1:8-10, 2 Cor 4:7-12
  • John MacArthur –“Consider it a challenge rather than a hinderance.”
  • We should love a challenge!
  • Expect, Embrace, Evolve

A devotedness to people -vv. 10-12

Timothy

  • Worked closely with Paul
  • Pastor at Ephesus
  • Usually served in difficult spots

Paul invested in him

Paul knew he needed encouragement

Apollos

  • Great speaker
  • Priscilla and Aquilla Acts 18:24-28
  • Part of some controversy in Corinth 1 Cor 1:12, 1 Cor. 3:4-8

Paul cared for him

  • No competition, no envy

Paul trusted him

  • Working together
  • LIFE IS MESSY

A deep conviction for spiritual growth – vv. 13-14

Paul was always challenging others to GROW! DO SOMETHING GREAT!

Just like a teacher inspires their students

Be watchful

  • Be alert

Stand firm in the faith

  • Maturing stability
  • 1 Cor 3:1 – Maturing

Act like men

  • Strong leadership
  • It is time to be different!

Be Strong

  • Spiritual strength
  • Eph 6:10 – Strong in the Lord
  • 2 Tim 2:1 – Strong by the grace of Christ
  • HIS STRENGTH NOT OURS

Do all in love

  • Leadership not dictatorship
  • 1 Cor 13
  • Care for others
  • Love for truth

A dependence upon the local church – vv. 15-22

  • Universal and Local
  • He knew they needed each other
    • TIMES ARE TOUGH… WE NEED EACH OTHER
    • We need you… you need the church
  • Be subject -accountability, direction
  • Refreshed our spirits
    • Send their greetings
    • TOGETHER, ALL IN
  • Holy kiss
    • Love, admiration
    • Family

What is Church Discipline?

Our Wednesday night discussion from Chapter 5 of Deliberate Church, by Mark Dever


I think of Church (our church) like a family.  That should explain much about why I value ministry and church membership the way I do.

  • We are not individuals
  • We are not special groups or sub-groups within a church.
  • We are a family.  Different roles, ministries, and functions… but still a family.  When someone joins the church, they are joining OUR family.

So, when we begin the discussion of church discipline let’s consider family discipline.

  • What is it for? What is the purpose?  Why is it important?
    • To raise children to be adults.  To have a process in place that will mold them into the people we would desire them to be.  (To teach, to correct, to model.)

How is it done well?

  • Lovingly and consistently, with the end in mind

How is it not done well?

  • To lax – To strict
  • Both can produce disobedient/rebellious children

Therefore, should church discipline be viewed in the same manner.

What is it? A definition. (Pastor Jon’s short answer)

A biblical culture/mindset in place that allows us to honor the Word of God as we encourage each church member to faithfully walk with Christ (live as a disciple) and therefore allowing our church the greatest opportunity for unity, holiness, and Gospel centered ministry within our community.

  • Which is all motivated by love:
  • Love for the Lord
  • Love for the Word
  • Love for one another
  • Love for the purity of Lord’s Church

It Is Formative and Corrective (Dever points out)

Formative – giving form or shape; forming; shaping; fashioning; molding. (dictionary.com)

In our physical life – Eating right, exercise.

In our spiritual life – How the church gets into shape, stays in shape, and grows into better shape.

  • Preaching, Teaching, Sharing, Serving, Discipling, Gathering for corporate Worship,
    • THEY ENABLE GROWTH AND STRENGTH

Corrective – tending to correct or rectify. (Dictionary.com)

In our physical – Surgery.

In our spiritual – To admonish, rebuke, and exhort. When we deviate from the Word/Truth.

  • In doctrine and lifestyle
    • What we believe/teach
    • How we live
  • Speaking the truth in love to one another and pointing each other to the grace of the gospel

OBVIOUSLY, some aspects of spiritual discipline are not fun, nor SHOULD WE WANT to go through it, but at times it is necessary.  THERE IS A PURPOSE.

What is the purpose?

The Purposes of Church Discipline – J. Hampton Keathley, III

  1. To bring glory to God and enhance the testimony of the flock.
  • To restore, heal, and build up sinning believers (Matt. 18:15; 2 Thess. 3:14-15; Heb. 12:10-13; Gal. 6:1-2; Jam. 5:20).
  • To produce a healthy faith, one sound in doctrine (Tit. 1:13; 1 Tim. 1:19-20).
  • To win a soul to Christ, if the sinning person is only a professing Christian (2 Tim. 2:24-26).
  • To silence false teachers and their influence in the church (Tit. 1:10-11).
  • To set an example for the rest of the body and promote godly fear (1 Tim. 5:20).
  • To protect the church against the destructive consequences that occur when churches fail to carry out church discipline.

The Biblical Process of Church Discipline

Matthew 18:15-17

  1. A private conversation
    1. BY FAR the most common.  Most conversations do not go beyond here.  BECAUSE OF OUR MINDSET.
  • Take one or two others with you.
  • Involve leaders or pastors
  • Tell it to the church
  • Remove the unrepentant from the church (I have never gotten to this point personally)
  • 1 Cor. 5:9-13
  • It seems so harsh, yet… what is the purpose of this (think like a family…tough love)
  • To bring about Repentance – Turning from that which is sinful and will cause God’s discipline.
  • To bring about Restoration – A faithful and obedient life growing and changing into the likeness of Christ

BECAUSE WE LOVE THEM

4 Ways Church Discipline Demonstrates Love

Jonathan Leeman. Church Discipline: How the Church Protects the Name of Jesus (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012).

  1. Church discipline shows love for the individual, that he or she might be warned and brought to repentance.
  • Church discipline shows love for the church, that weaker sheep might be protected.
  • Church discipline shows love for the watching world, that it might see Christ’s transforming power.
  • Church discipline shows love for Christ, that churches might uphold his holy name and obey him.


CREATING THE PROPER CULTURE/MINDSET

Dever points out two aspects that must be established before a church can even begin to live these principles out.

  1. A CHURCH UNDERSTANDING OF PROPER RELATIONSHIPS – Ephesians 4:16
  2. We have to be a church of healthy (family type) relationships.  Look beyond our own interests to the interests of others. Phil 2:4– Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (ESV)
    1. We love one another (the entire family)
    2. We have concern for one another
    3. We care for one another
  • A CHURCH UNDERSTANDING OF PROPER LEADERSHIP – No one leader (the pastor) should be walking through this process alone.  It takes not only the called/vocational staff but also lay people.  That have the same desire for their church.  FAITHFUL, COMMITTED people that has a desire to see their church Reach the World as it GLORIFIES THE LORD.

Dever’s Church – A plurality of elders.  Staff Elders and appointed Lay Elders as spiritual leaders.  This way more than just the “paid staff” are considered to be leading the church.  They have elders that lead, but still are a Congregational church.

Baptist Churches –Typically have 1 Elder (the senior pastor.  Some churches would consider certain staff members as Elders).  They will also have deacons, committees, and teams. Each church is unique in how and who makes these types of decisions.  (KEY IS EVERYONE IS HEADING IN THE SAME DIRECTION)


CONCLUSION FROM CHAPTER 5 (pg. 72 “Deliberate Church)

Gathering a church is hard work. It takes diligence, watchfulness, wisdom, and patience. Some in the congregation may not understand why you are doing things the way you are. Some might become impatient when immediate results are difficult to see or numerical growth takes longer than they expected. Some may be offended that you seem to be questioning people’s salvation by clarifying the Gospel so often. Others might actually leave the church because the inherent offensiveness of the Gospel begins to make them uncomfortable or even angry. All of this is okay. These are often the signs of pastoral faithfulness in the early years of a work.

Keep preaching. Keep praying. Keep building personal relationships. Keep being patient when people forget, misunderstand, or wrong you (2 Tim. 2:24). Keep cultivating trust among them. Keep trusting that Jesus will build His church by the power of His Word. Lay the foundation with patient, biblical wisdom. It’s worth it. Doing this work now will ensure the structural integrity of the house decades later—and it will save you a bundle in repairs.

But gathering a church is also eminently worthy and exciting work! Don’t give up! Don’t give in to doubt or disillusionment or fear of man! Take a longer view. God’s purposes for all of human history revolve around the local church as the visible, corporate manifestation of His Son, Jesus Christ! He has ordained that His most important objectives both here and in heaven be accomplished through the agency of the local church (Eph. 3:10-11)! He has promised that His church will not fail (Matt. 16:18)! His love for the church is so great that Paul has to pray for capacity just to comprehend its dimensions (Eph. 3:17-19)! The church is of cosmic importance to God—literally. And as pastors and church leaders, we are privileged to build up this church that God loves so much, as we ourselves obey the Gospel and follow Christ (Eph. 4:11-16). Model godliness (1 Tim. 4:12-16). Be strong and courageous— God’s presence, power, and promises are all with you (Josh. 1:1-8). “Be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Tim. 4:5)


Purposes of Church Discipline from 1 Corinthians 5

Jonathan Leeman. Church Discipline: How the Church Protects the Name of Jesus (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012).

1. Discipline aims to expose.

Sin, like cancer, loves to hide. Discipline exposes the cancer so that it might be cut out quickly (see 1 Cor. 5:2)

2. Discipline aims to warn.

A church does not enact God’s retribution through discipline. Rather, it stages a small play that pictures the great judgment to come (v. 5). Discipline is a compassionate warning.

3. Discipline aims to save.

Churches pursue discipline when they see a member taking the path toward death, and none of their pleading and arm-waving causes the person to turn around. It’s the device of last resort for bringing an individual to repentance (v. 5).

4. Discipline aims to protect.

Just as cancer spreads from one cell to another, so sin quickly spreads from one person to another (v. 6).

5. Discipline aims to present a good witness for Jesus.

Church discipline, strange to say, is actually good for non-Christians, because it helps to preserve the attractive distinctiveness of God’s people (see v. 1). Churches, remember, should be salt and light. “But if the salt loses its saltiness . . . ,” Jesus said, “It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled by men” (Matt. 5:13).


Other Resources:

Bible.org – J. Hampton Keathley, III

https://bible.org/article/church-discipline

The Gospel Coalition – Jonathan Leeman

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/church-discipline-principles-and-reasons/

Grace Community Church

https://www.gracechurch.org/about/distinctives/church-discipline


Scripture References

1 Corinthians 5:9–13 – [9] I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—[10] not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. [11] But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. [12] For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? [13] God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (ESV)

Matthew 18:15–20 – [15] “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. [16] But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. [17] If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. [18] Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. [19] Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. [20] For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (ESV)

Ephesians 4:15–16 – [15] Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, [16] from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (ESV)