God-Centered Salvation and Man-Centered Salvation Explained Briefly

Here is a brief article by Alan Kurschner explaining God-centered salvation vs. man-centered salvation.  These two concepts of salvation are diametrically opposed to each other.  I think the article makes this clear even though it is short.  Take a minute to read the article and then examine what you believe about salvation.

Which category does your belief fall into?  Is your belief consistent with what is taught in the Bible?  If not, are you motivated to do some more study and possibly change your belief?  Share your thoughts in the comments here.

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Book Giveaway

They are having a book giveaway over at The Lighthearted Calvinist.  The book is a commentary on Revelation.  If you are interested, click here and submit an entry.

Reading Psalms and Proverbs

Recently I have been drawn to reading the Psalms.  I have read them before but there is something different this time.  I seem to be able to understand more the depths the writer of the Psalms was in as he calls out to God in them.  I can see myself in the writers position as he calls out to God.  Maybe I have matured some as a Christian or maybe God is preparing me for something.  Maybe it is both.

I read a quote by Billy Graham in a story written about him in the USA Today in 2005 that I would like to share with you.  He said

“I used to read five psalms every day — that teaches me how to get along with God. Then I read a chapter of Proverbs every day and that teaches me how to get along with my fellow man.”

I had never heard that before but it is profound, at least to me.  I can see the wisdom in doing what he did.  I am thinking about trying this myself.  Psalms and Proverbs are rich sources of spiritual nourishment for the Christian.  I encourage you to partake of that nourishment.

When Things Seem Hopeless Commit Your Spirit To God

Psalm 31

(1)  In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me!  (2)  Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me!

(3)  For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;  (4)  you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge.  (5)  Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.

(6)  I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols, but I trust in the LORD.  (7)  I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul,  (8)  and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place.

(9)  Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also.  (10)  For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away.

(11)  Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach, especially to my neighbors, and an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me.  (12)  I have been forgotten like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel.  (13)  For I hear the whispering of many– terror on every side!– as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life.

(14)  But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.”  (15)  My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!  (16)  Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love!  (17)  O LORD, let me not be put to shame, for I call upon you; let the wicked be put to shame; let them go silently to Sheol.  (18)  Let the lying lips be mute, which speak insolently against the righteous in pride and contempt.

(19)  Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!  (20)  In the cover of your presence you hide them from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter from the strife of tongues.

(21)  Blessed be the LORD, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was in a besieged city.  (22)  I had said in my alarm, “I am cut off from your sight.” But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help.

(23)  Love the LORD, all you his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.  (24)  Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!

Does life have you beaten down so badly that you are at the end of your rope?  Are you being crushed by the circumstances of your life?  Do you have no hope?  Do you have nowhere to turn for help?  Do you feel that your spirit is broken and you don’t have the strength to continue the fight?  This is the same situation that the writer of this Psalm found himself in.  I bet as you read the Psalm you had empathy for the writer.  You understood his situation.  What did he do?  He turned to God for help.  You can too.

CALL OUT TO GOD!  CALL OUT TO GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART,  WITH YOUR LAST OUNCE OF STRENGTH.  TURN YOUR LIFE OVER TO HIM.  HE WILL RESPOND.  ONLY HE CAN HELP YOU.  HE WILL SAVE YOU.  HE WILL PRESERVE YOU…NOT FROM YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES BUT THROUGH THEM.  CALL OUT TO GOD UNTIL HE ANSWERS.  HE IS FAITHFUL.  HE ALONE IS CAPABLE.  HE ALONE IS PRAISEWORTHY.  TRUST HIM…TRUST HIM AND HE WILL BEAR YOUR BURDEN.  WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?  CALL OUT TO GOD!

James MacDonald: The “End Game” Of Preaching

In this short video (only about 2 minutes), James MacDonald discusses the end game of preaching.  Basically, he says that the end game should be to give people a high view of Scripture so that people will want to dig into the Word and become self-feeders.

What do you think?  Agree or disagree?

ESV Study Bible

I received my copy of the ESV study Bible today.  Wow, it is HUGE!  I look forward to checking out the notes and articles.  There is definitely enough to keep me busy for a while.  Westminster Books is still discounting them if you have not purchased one yet.

ESV Study Bible Video Promo

Is Sunday School Still Important?

No matter what you call it or when they actually meet, do you think Sunday School is worth the time and effort?  This article seems to indicate that it is.  As someone who teaches Sunday School, I can attest that it does..especially if make the effort to have a relationship with the members of your class outside the class settings.

The statistics in the article speak for themselves.  Small group interaction is vital to a person feeling connected to the church.  Once a person is part of a small group they are much less likely to drop out of church.

Do you attend Sunday School?  If not, why not?  If you don’t, you are depriving yourself and others of the benefits of the group.

What Is The Meaning Of Life?

My wife and I teach the junior youth (5th, 6th, & 7th grade) at our church on Sunday & Wednesday nights.  We have taught them since September of 2007.  One of the things we started when we took over was questions night.  Periodically, instead of a formal lesson I would allow them to ask any question about the Bible and its application that they wanted.  The purpose of this was threefold.  First, it gave us an opportunity to interact in a non-formal type setting.  Second, it gave me an opportunity to evaluate where the were spiritually.  Thirdly, it gave me an opportunity to see what issues they had on their minds and may be struggling with.  It has actually worked very well.

Now, I am no Bible expert.  Most of the questions I get a basic and I can easily answer but there are times when I get some very good questions.  These are the ones that are really exciting because it shows that the kids are really thinking about important things.  I will occasionally get a question that I don’t know the answer to.  During one of these question nights, one of the kids decided to try to stump me.  He asked the question “What is the meaning of life?” and smugly set back in his chair thinking he had succeeded and at first I thought he had.

As I took a few seconds to consider the question I thought about how I was completely unprepared for it.  But as I thought, it occured to me that there are many variations to this question.  Some other ways that it is asked is “What is our purpose?” and “Why are we here?”.  You may be able to give some other examples of how it is asked.  I was able to answer these questions.  As I explained to him that our purpose, that the meaning of life, was to glorify God he was a bit stunned.  I must admit that I had a moment of pride also.  I shouldn’t have but I did.

Have you ever been asked this question?  If so, how did you answer it?  Was my answer adequate of did I make an error somewhere that I need to correct.

Participating In Church Discipline For The First Time

Matthew 18:15-17 (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.

For the first time, I find myself in a situation which requires church discipline.  A member of my Sunday School class has gone astray.  As we have prayed about and discussed this situation we have decided that we need to reach out to this member.  I am torn.  I feel the necessity to make the effort to bring the member back into the flock but I am not sure that it will do any good.

At this point, we are going to try if he will agree to meet with us.  The pastor has expressed a willingness to go with us.  I don’t want to put this off on the pastor but I am a bit relieved that he is willing to go with us.  I am not sure how to express that we care about this member and still be completely clear that he is in sin and in need of repentance.

Have you been involved in situations that required church discipline before?  If so, do you have any tips on how to do it effectively?