Study Resources

Here you will find various Bible Study notes. These will include discipleship courses. Some study notes are intentionally very simple, while others require more advanced thinking.

Uncomfortable Comfort – Part 2

The video of this message can be viewed at: 

Considering practical ways to receive and amplify God’s comfort 

Psalm 119:50 This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.

  • David says that the comfort he received came while in the time of affliction.
  • Don’t think that comfort only comes when the affliction is gone. That’s worldly thinking.
  • The greatest struggles of life present the greatest opportunities for God’s grace in its various forms of comfort.

While there are different Hebrew words for Comfort, in Psalm 119:50, David uses neḥâmâ, h5165 = consolation, to relent or comfort. It’s from a base word, h5162 nâḥam, which means to sigh, or to breathe deeply.

  • Which is very applicable in times of distress when the believer can emotionally, spiritually, and possibly physically, take a deep breath of pause.
  • This creates the opportunity to gather our thoughts from the perspective of God’s Word. Maybe through meditation of God’s Word, possibly by reviewing life, or simply to slow down what’s happening in our minds or in the surrounding events, to wait on the Lord.
  • It’s in the spiritual deep breath of comfort that we find some ease, maybe the ability to set God back in the centre of our attention. Here, there’s a sense of well-being while the turmoil swirls around you. It’s a time when you may conclude that you have lost control, but God hasn’t. Therefore, there is hope in the LORD.

2 Questions:
How do we receive God’s available comfort.
How do we amplify God’s comfort so that comfort drowns out the loudest pains?

4 Answers:
1)  Observe your life from God’s perspective
It’s only natural, and understandable, that life’s difficulties sometimes consume us.
When feeling afflicted, one of the early things that often happens, is someone begins telling you that God has abandoned you, you are obviously unworthy of His attention, you’re on your own, or God must be evil to allow such things to happen. It may be the voices in your own heart, it may be the devil, or it could be friends. Either way, the voices of condemnation are WRONG.

  • If you are a repentant believer in Jesus Christ as Lord, and you are not presently dominated by habitual sin, listen to who you are in Christ.
  • Read God’s Word, read books that tell you clearly who God says you are in Christ.
  • Romans 8:1, There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
  • Romans 8:39, Nothing… in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • In Colossians 3:12, Paul addressed the believers as the elect of God, holy and beloved
  • In Ephesians 2:13-14, Paul told the believers that they have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace… Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are heavily invested.

Our confidence of acceptance by God is not found in self or in the church size or character, but in Christ.

  • Our circumstances do NOT change any of these truths.
  • 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 NLT Paraphrase. It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, 22 and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first instalment that guarantees everything he has promised us.

This is God’s commitment to every born again child of His. This is how He sees you, regardless of circumstances, regardless of how you feel about yourself, and regardless of what others tell you.

  • God knows everything about you and what’s happening in your life (Psalm 139:1-2) and He loves you regardless. So, count your blessings, name them, and talk about them.

2)  Engage & share with others – fellowship
When the going gets tough, we often just want to be alone, which is fine for short periods of time. But as creatures created in the image of God, we were designed for fellowship. God uses others to supply our needs, even though we may not want others, we need them.
Spend time with believers who weep and laugh with you, and who share their joy with you.
Spend time with those with courage and dogged determination to persevere. Be careful how much time you spend with those who continually look for a way out only.

  • Proverbs 18:1, Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.

This is why the New Testament speaks of the “one anothers” so often – we need one another to receive the relational resources of God. It is through one another the relational  voice of affirmation and security is increased.

  • 2 Corinthians 13:11, Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

It is often through one another that we realise the emotional impact of the God of love and peace being present in our lives.

This is why faithfulness is so critical to our emotional and spiritual wellbeing – God designed us to receive and amplify His love and peace through our loving and peaceful relationships with one another.

  • Paul warns us in Galatians 5:15, if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
  • 2 Corinthians 1:5, For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

As we open up to one another we become able to receive and give the comforts of God. When we distance ourselves from one another, we are more likely to judge one another.

2 Corinthians 6:11-13 NIV
11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you.
12 We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are  withholding yours from us.
13 As a fair exchange — I speak as to my children — open wide    your hearts also.

This is how we build a stronger community amongst ourselves. We open up to each other. This doesn’t mean you bare your soul or your deepest secrets to everyone.

  • But it does mean we all take time and make effort to pause, to attend fellowship times, to talk, to introduce ourselves, to offer help during the week, or ask for help.
  • To get into a routine of communication with your fellow church members.
  • To prioritise time together with your Christian brothers and sisters as significant time.
  • This is how we share and amplify God’s comfort in our church relationships. Be content with one another, choose not to take offense at one another.

2 Thessalonians 1:3, We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.

Book Promotion: “Unoffendable” by Brant Hansen.

3)  Read Scripture & Worship
This is an extension of number 1, “Observe your life from God’s perspective”

Spend time alone with God! Spend time with others, with God!

  • Psalm 119:36, Incline (Stretch out) my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!
  • As we grow our understanding of God’s Word, that understanding comforts and reassures.
  • Again, worship with one another is critical for our wellbeing. Private worship only goes so far. We need to make the connection, spending time in God’s Word fuels our worship.
  • David likened his pleasure in God’s Word to that of his combined financial wealth.

In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches (Psalm 119:14, cf. 119:162).
Psalm 119:52,  When I think of your rules from of old, I take comfort, O LORD.
Psalm 119:76,   Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant.
Psalm 119:92 If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.

  • In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Paul instructs us to give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. And it’s only as we know God better, and view our lives from His perspective in Christ, that we are able to do this.

4)  Serve on behalf of Christ
Serving is a powerful means of receiving, giving, and amplifying Christ’s comfort. As we serve, we act on behalf of Christ, and we see the blessing in others.

  • Galatians 5:13, For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Spiritual freedom does not mean selfish living. No, we exchange those selfish activities for ones of service done in love.
Selfless service reminds us, and others, of the “freedom” we have in Christ. And we experience that freedom through loving service. This amplifies God’s comfort within us.

Matthew 20:26-28, Jesus informed His position hungry disciples that…
…whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, 27 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

When we disconnect or distance ourselves from relationships and service for God, we are disconnecting from one of God’s resources for encouragement and support.

  • This is why 1 Peter 4:10 says, As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…

Mutual service administers God’s grace into each other’s lives. As we receive His grace, it is amplified through other’s service to us, affirming God’s comfort.

Review – We Receive and Amplify God’s Comfort when we:
Observe our lives from God’s perspective
Engage & share with others in fellowship
Read Scripture & Worship
Serve others on behalf of Christ

Uncomfortable Comfort – Part 2 Read More »

Uncomfortable Comfort – Part 1

Job 21:34
How then will you comfort me with empty nothings?
There is nothing left of your answers but falsehood.

The video of this message can be viewed at:

Considering the difference between God’s comfort and invalid comfort.

As we all know, Christians are not spared from the pains of life. No amount of denial or speaking it out of existence can remove the unpleasant realities we all endure at times.

While I applaud the efforts that people make in showing comfort to those who suffer, like all things though, comfort has a vulnerability. It can be false, hypocritical, and invalid.

  • Invalid comfort looks to surface issues only, to the superficial things, and to what is convenient for the giver. It doesn’t like to sacrifice self for the recipient’s benefit.
  • Therefore, it often lacks grace.
  • Invalid comfort is more concerned about how the giver feels, than how the recipient feels.
    • There’s nothing worse than empty platitudes from an insincere person when you’re struggling. Instead of encouraging and strengthening your resolve to remain steadfast, it, like quicksand, sucks you down into doubt, fear, and insecurity.
    • Whereas authentic comfort reassures, imparting a degree of calmness while in the storms of life. It conveys a layer of wellness, of acceptance, and of security of the relationship to overlay the pain being experienced.
    • In short, comfort says, “I’m here for you, and I’m not going anywhere.”

The Bible tells us of a man named Job, who suffered unimaginably.
Without warning he had his wealth, his property, his possessions, his livestock, his staff, and his children, all destroyed.
He then lost his health; being covered in weeping sores, he was cast out of town to survive on the local rubbish dump with the dogs. He was the target of ridicule, humiliation, and slanderous gossip. As if that wasn’t bad enough, his fatalistic wife suggested he “curse God and die” (2:9).

  • Now, Job had 4 would-be friends who seemed to start out being empathetic and supportive of him in this nightmare (Job 2:11-13; 32:2-5. Bildad, Zophar, Eliphaz, and Elihu).
  • But their words soon turned ugly, increasing Job’s suffering. These 4 would-be friends were imperfect sinners who lacked the grace, the patience, and the selflessness that provides the self-restraint needed for helping someone in Job’s condition.
  • At every level Job was overwhelmed by the sense of loss, of devastation, of betrayal, of hopelessness, and depression. These 4 men did nothing but accuse Job of all kinds of wrong, attempting to convince him that sin was the cause of his suffering. Therefore, this was God’s punishment.

In doing so, they crushed Job’s spirit, robbing him of what little dignity he had left. Why, because they were thinking more of themselves than of Job.
But God’s testimony of Job was that he was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil (Job 1:1).
Obviously, these 4 men had it all wrong!

On one occasion, exasperated Job, said to his friends in…
Job 21:34,    How then will you comfort me with empty nothings? There is nothing left of your answers but falsehood (h4604 = treachery).

  • Job quickly picked up on their insincerity, and the worthlessness of their words. He realised that there was betrayal and abandonment in these 4 men.
  • For comfort to be of any real value, it needs to be authentic, other-focused, and felt through the recipient’s experience.

God’s comfort is NOTHING like what those 4 men showed Job.

  • I’ve titled this 2 part series “Uncomfortable Comfort” because I want us to see that within the uncomfortable times of life, God has real and valuable comfort which He offers for us to receive.

It needs to be remembered, that God speaks as one who suffers more than any of us.

  • Shortly after creation, Adam and Eve believed the lies of God’s enemy, and they sinned, introducing death and suffering into the world. Before long, human rebellion was so rampant, that the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart (Genesis 6:6). The original word for “grieved” carries the idea of pain that carves its way into the heart.
  • Stepping forward in time, we see unfaithful Israel becoming the source of great suffering for God. They rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved him in the desert! They tested God again and again and provoked the Holy One of Israel (Psalm 78:40-41).
  • In the New Testament, it was Peter, as we learnt last week from Acts 2, who publicly explained Israel’s ultimate wound to God’s heart. Men of Israel…  this Jesus, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men (Acts 2:22-23).
  • God, better than anyone, knows the deepest pains, and our need for comfort. He knows the betrayal of those who claim to be loyal to Him. He knows the heartache from disobedient children. He knows what is to be slandered, misrepresented, mocked, and blasphemed. He even knows the pain of having His only child murdered.
  • When God speaks words of comfort, He’s emotionally invested. He’s involved because He loves us and cares for us. And because He cares, He feels our pain when we hurt.
  • For believers, we know God gets it, and He understands us in our suffering!
  • This is because God exists within the sufferings of His children. To this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps (1 Peter 2:21). As Christ suffered well, so believers also, are equipped to follow Christ’s gracious and faithful responses in their suffering.

4 Comforts From God – which we cling to by faith
The 1st comfort is Jesus’ Cleansing Forgiveness
In the apostle John’s comparison between pretend and authentic faith, in 1 John  1:5-10, he says in verse 7… if we walk in the light, as He (God) is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).

  • At the heart of our Christian relationships is a heavenly relationship founded upon Jesus’ Cross that binds believers together.
  • Therefore, believers should give evidence to the light of God being real in their lives by mutually treating each other in a way that reflects the blood of Jesus… having cleansed us all from all sin.

This is God’s forgiveness serving as the foundation of our Christian relationships.

  • Christian fellowship is to be expressive of God’s character and the sufficiency of Jesus power to cleanse us of sin. Therefore, the therapeutic benefits of church community, of fellowship, of our togetherness, inspires us to treat each other as forgiven and precious.

This is because the quality of our fellowship displays what we truly think about God.

  • Jesus’ cleansing forgiveness offers us security of acceptance by God. It offers hope for change, hope for rescue, and hope for healing from failed relationships, and the disappointment that follows.

The 2nd Comfort is God’s Sovereignty
God remains Governor of the universe regardless of our present condition or state of mind. Even our negative feelings, our lack of understanding, and our confusion over a matter, does not change God’s authoritative position in the universe or in our lives.

  • While it’s difficult to accept sometimes, nothing happens without God’s prior approval.

In Psalm 31:14-15, David accepts God’s governing of his time, of the chapters and circumstances of his life. I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hand… (Administration)

  • In Job 23:8-10, he shows us his God-centred perspective on God’s invisible activity.

8   Behold, I go forward but He is not there, and backward, but I   cannot discern Him;
9   When He acts on the left, I cannot behold Him; He turns on the   right, I cannot see Him.
10  But He (God) knows the way I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.

Sanctification’s goal is to achieve precious purity.
We take comfort in our struggles, knowing that God trains us for our good, that we may share His holiness (Hebrews 12:10).

  • In Isaiah 45:7, God states, I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things.
  • While we get hung up on whether God actioned something unpleasant, or just allowed it to happen, He takes ownership of it all.
  • Whether God orchestrates disaster or can only see it coming and is powerless to do anything about it, is a futile argument according to God.

This argument is never heard in heaven because everyone in heaven knows that God providentially oversees everything. The beautiful and the ugly times of life are all under His governorship.

  • In 2 Samuel 16:5-14, we read of the time when King David was running from his son Absolom, who was hunting down his Dad to kill him (2Sa 16:11).
  • When David came to a town called Bahurim, a man by the name of Shimei came out abusing and slandering while throwing stones at him.
  • Then Abishai… said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and take off his head (2 Samuel 16:9).

10 But the king said… If he is cursing because the LORD has said to  him, ‘Curse David,’ who  then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’”

  • David understood the practical implications of God’s governing rule over the events of life, over the distasteful things, including other’s bad behaviour towards us.
  • At no point is God out-of-touch with our sufferings!

The 3rd Comfort is God’s Presence
If we feel alone, that does NOT mean God is absent.
Psalm 139:7-10
7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your  presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol  (Death), you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall  hold me.

Solomon says in Proverbs 15:3, the eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.

Absolutely nothing escapes God’s attention or presence.
Even in the traumatic times of life, when we simply fail to understand any of what’s happening, God is there with us!

Think for a moment of Jonah, the wonky prophet for rent. God had to place him in a fish’s belly for 3 days and nights (Jon 1:17) before he would obey.

  • Jonah 2:1 records that Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish…
  • Not receiving a reply from God, Jonah ends his session of prayer with this…

I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the LORD!” (Jonah 2:9). Expecting death, he worships God and offers obedience should his life be spared.

  • Finally, God responds to Jonah. And the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land (Jonah 2:10).

The fish heard God’s voice, not Jonah. Yet, he did experience the result of God’s response.

  • Jonah was never alone, never unheard by God, and never abandoned, despite how he may have felt during that time.

Even in times of bad decisions, or worse, in times of our disobedience,  God remains present. He is the invisible and silent attendant, our constant companion.

  • 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 It is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put His seal on us and given us His Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

The 4th Comfort is Heavenly Intercession
Although we don’t get to see or hear this heavenly activity, God assures us that it’s active, and the results are very real.

Holy Spirit Intercession
Romans 8:26-27 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Christ’s Intercession
In Romans 8:33, Paul asks, then answers an important question, Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.

Do not live in fear of peoples’ condemning words against you! Rejoice that it is God who justifies you. While others condemn you, God declares you innocent in Christ. Yes, there may be the need for greater obedience, but God does NOT write you off.

Romans 8:34   Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

The Father Keeps us in His Love
Romans 8:38-39 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Summary – 4 Comforts From God
The 1st comfort is Jesus’ Cleansing Forgiveness
The 2nd Comfort is God’s Sovereignty
The 3rd Comfort is God’s Presence
The 4th Comfort is Heavenly Intercession
In these comforts we walk by faith in God.



Uncomfortable Comfort – Part 1 Read More »

17 – God Created

God’s Word begins before the beginning, starting with an explanation of the beginning. As the only recorded eyewitness to this worlds’ beginning, God presents a powerful, yet sensible testimony of how everything that we know of in creation came into being. This is the doctrine of creation. Creation is not a matter for science, rather, creation is theological as Scripture is our only source of information regarding the creator and the events of His creation.

As the pre-existent one, God tells us that ​“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1). He did this through “his Son… through whom also he created the world” (Heb 1:2). John explains that Jesus, who is also known as ‘the Word,’ “was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made” (Jn 1:1-3).

God testifies to being unassisted in the work of creating everything. “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible” (Heb 11:3). No other being, no angels, no microscopic matter, and no external information was used by God to design and bring into being everything we know to be real in the universe. He did not require assistance; he did not need to use building materials or tools. He simply spoke all of creation into existence by His own intrinsic power and will. “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him” (Col 1:16).

All living things in the heavenly and spiritual realm, plus all within the earthy physical realm, are the direct result of God exercising His creative power. Nothing that came into being was without purpose or meaning, as everything was intended for the glory of God. Therefore, mankind finds his meaning, his purpose, and his hope in living for God. Mankind is NOT independent of God, nor is mankind autonomous, or self-authoritative.

As the eternal, uncreated, and pre-existent God who “has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself” (Jn 5:26). God is life, and His Son Jesus Christ who was the instrument of God’s creative Word is also life. Which is why Jesus was able to say of himself, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Furthermore, the apostle Paul adds that “the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:2). So, we see that God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are perpetual life in and of themselves, incapable of non-life, incapable of annihilation, and incapable of non-existence.

Genesis 1:2 further tells us that in the initial steps of creation “the earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” God the Holy Spirit was both present and active in the exercise of the Father and Son’s creative work. The entirety of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were united in the expression of their will and power through bringing into existence their world within their universe, for their glory.

Proverbs 3:19 adds that “the LORD by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens.” God engaged more than His intellect and power in creation. He unleashed the greatest expression of His understanding by employing His wisdom. Proverbs 8:22 continues, “the LORD possessed me (wisdom) at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old.”  Then, wisdom testifies, “I was daily his delight” (Proverbs 8:30). As Yahweh exercised His will through His intelligence and powerful creativity, He only made the best decisions, only implementing the very best that He was capable of. The result was that God’s perfection rejoiced in the excellence of His wise handiwork. This is why on the sixth day of creation, as the Lord evaluated all that He had accomplished, He concluded that everything “was very good” (Gen 1:31).

Paul informed the Colossian believers that “He (Christ) is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Col 1:17). Jesus Christ, who existed before anything else existed, was not only the cause of all created things, but He is the cause of the created universe holding together. Christ is the reason for all material objects NOT falling apart. Every unseen, and every visible process that operates in the universe to maintain order is the direct enablement of Christ’s sovereign will and power. This is why the writer of Hebrews says that Christ “upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Heb 1:3). Because of Christ’s sovereignty over creation, we can say with Paul, “in him (Christ) we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Christ is the giver of life, and Christ is the sustainer of life. Therefore, every creature that exists is subject to God and dependent upon God as the absolute owner of all. Understanding this is essential because “the whole world… is accountable to God” (Rom 3:19).

Nothing was left to chance or to self-development, there was and remains no evolutionary process. God did NOT create the universe then sit back and hope that everything would somehow continue to develop and maintain itself. No, in the beginning, God created everything complete, fully developed, and fully functional.

Let’s now turn our attention to some details concerning the origin of all that we know that exists in the universe. The creation account recorded in Genesis 1:1-2:3 puts God’s genius on display. Even a quick reading reveals the increments in which God worked. The entire process was divided into 6 stages, which were 6 cycles of time which He called days and nights. Notice that before God’s first creative work NOTHING existed, there were no building materials and no measurement of area or of time.

Day 1     Gen 1:1-5
God created the empty universe with a single planet – earth. The earth was a round sphere (Isa 40:22) completely covered with water, sitting in total darkness. God then created light and separated the light from the darkness, calling light “day” and darkness “night.” This was the first literal 24 hour cycle of time divided into night and day without a Sun or Moon, purely by God’s power.

Day 2     Gen 1:6-8
God created an expanse, an empty area which separated the waters and called it heaven (sky). Now there was water covering the entire earth surface, plus water up in the sky which we call cloud. In between these two waters was the empty expanse which we call air (atmosphere).

At this point in time there was no rain, the clouds contained the water without dropping it. Plus, rising from the surface of the ground was a water vapour, a mist of tiny floating water droplets which provided water to anything that grew up from the ground.

Day 3     Gen 1:9-13
God created the dry ground, and He gathered the waters which covered the surface of the earth, calling the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters “seas” (Oceans).

God also created vegetation (plants and trees). The plants were divided into distinctly different types, or categories, and given the ability to reproduce through their seeds. Each plant could only reproduce another plant of its same kind by its own seed.

Within these different plant types, God created some which produced fruit which also contained their seeds. All these plants were created mature, and without the need for further development for them to reproduce.

Day 4     Gen 1:14-19
God created the sun, moon, and stars to give light to the earth and to govern and separate the day and night times. These would also serve as signs to mark out and govern seasons, days, and years.

On this day God created what we call our solar system, a highly accurate group of revolving heavenly bodies. The distance, the angles, and the magnetic fields of these planets and stars are precisely determined by God and they in turn determine the earths seasons, temperature, and the ocean tides.

Day 5     Gen 1:20-23
God created every living creature in the seas and every winged bird. He blessed them with the instinctive ability to multiply and fill the waters and the sky with life. The enormous diversity in the many kinds of sea life and bird life is testament to God’s ingenious creative mind and power. From the microscopic organisms to the great whales of the sea, God created them all as living beings.

Notice again, that God created all these creatures mature and fully developed in their distinct categories of kinds, ready for reproduction. God did not create just a few of these creatures, but huge numbers of them so that the oceans swarmed with them.

Day 6     Gen 1:24-31; 2:7-8, 2:15-25
God created all the animals to cover the earth, from tiny insects to giant creatures such as the Elephant, and even larger, the dinosaurs. Again, every creature was made fully mature, reproductive, and fully functional in all the activities of their lives. Each kind of creature was unique, different in design and function, and possessed differing levels of intelligence and reasoning. All were given the instincts, the required mental instructions needed to live from the moment of their creation, NO further development was needed.

But it was on the sixth day that God created His most spectacular creature, the only creature which God formed from the dust of the earth. This creature carried the image of God, it was man (Adam). God breathed life into the man who carried superior intelligence, greater dignity, and an awareness of his unique relationship with creator God.

God entrusted the knowledge of obedience and disobedience, of life and death only to Adam by instructing Adam NOT to eat from one tree which lived in the centre of the garden. Genesis 2:17, “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” No other creature was given this knowledge or responsibility. This instruction was given to Adam alone to pass on to all future humans, beginning with his future wife, Eve.

God also entrusted to Adam the job of naming all the creatures of the earth which God had created. Genesis 2:19, “now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.” Adam alone possessed the ingenious intelligence required to think up and assign names to the huge number of different creatures that God had made. To a lesser degree, Adam possessed similar intellect as His creator, which identified Adam as being very different from all else that God had created. Adam stood out, he stood apart from every other living creature.

The next stage of God’s human development was equally unique from all else. God put Adam to sleep and surgically removed one of His ribs, then closed the wound. God proceeded to form a woman from that rib (Eve), and presented her to Adam as His counterpart, the one who would complete and balance Adam. Eve was Adam’s wife right from creation. Both man and woman were equally created in the image of God. Neither Adam nor Eve were superior or inferior to each other. Both were equally superior to all other creatures, and both were equally inferior to their creator God.

God blessed them equally and gave them every creature and the whole earth to rule over, to care for, to develop, and cultivate as they thought best as a governing partnership over the earth. Out of all the creatures, great and small, only Adam and Eve were equally given the responsibility and freedom to manage the entire planet that God had created.

So, at the end of day number 6, having created His most spectacular creatures, God surveyed everything, looking intently into all that He had made. He evaluated with a piercing examination of  every aspect of all He had made over the past 6 days. His conclusion was that everything, in every detail, from the smallest to the greatest, “was very good” (Gen 1:31). From the Hebrew language which Genesis is written in, we learn that God wholly, or exceedingly, says that everything was the very best, without even the smallest imperfection. Everything was an accurate expression of His majestic greatness and power. Holiness and omniscient power had given birth to creation through the spoken Word of Christ.

Day 7     Gen 2:1-3
God had completed His 6 literal days of creative work, with NO part requiring any further development, refinement, or improvement. Everything, without exception, was perfect and in full alignment with God’s holy will and purpose.

God was not exhausted; He did not need to rest because He was tired or had run out of ideas. No, He rested because there was nothing more that needed doing, “so God blessed the seventh day and made it holy” (Gen 2:3). Everything that God had designed and intended had become reality, so He rested.

Why is it important to have a clear and literal understanding of biblical creation? Following is a sample of how Scripture reveals the significance of understanding God’s creative work.

Creation reveals God
Romans 1:19-20 “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

Everything that exists is an open declaration by God of His desire to be recognised and known. Creation is a tangible book about God, written in language that all people can see and understand. All that can be scientifically examined, and all that can be experienced, speaks of God’s design, of God’s intelligence, and of God’s purposeful power. While the created universe is limited in its ability to display all of God’s attributes, much of God’s character is clearly seen in the created universe.

The human authors of God’s Word speak repeatedly, drawing the reader’s attention to God and His creative authorship of all that exists. Moses, Amos, Asaph, David, Ethan, Ezekiel, Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Job, the Levites, Malachi, Nehemiah, the Psalmist, Solomon, Zechariah, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, Paul, and the writer of Hebrews, all declare God as the creator of all things. The Bible points repeatedly to God being the reason for both the universe and mankind existing. The evidence is so clear, and so boldly obvious, that God says mankind is without excuse if they claim there is no creator God.

When Paul was preaching in the Greek city of Lystra, Acts 14:15-17 records him calling the people to look at creation.
“We bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them… God …did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” The hydrologic system that produces rain, as well as the earths’ ability to produce an incredible variety of fruits and vegetables is no accident. The earth produces food as an expression of God’s provision in creation. Food is given by God for our survival and nourishment. The earth’s food supply is testimony to God’s existence.

David proclaimed in Psalm 19:1-2, “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.” The enormity of the universe with all its stars and planets orbiting in their precise place and timing, tells of God’s greatness. The heavens remind us of just how small we are by comparison to God, yet He loves us and cares for us (Jn 3:16).

1 Chronicles 29:11-12 shares a prayer of David before the assembly of Israel. “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. 12 Both riches and honour come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.” Understanding God as creator gives mankind a correct perspective of the greatness of God and the smallness of mankind. It also tells us that God is sovereign, owning everything. God sets the boundaries, and He controls all that happens within His kingdom. Mankind is dependent upon God for all things. There is no place, no time, and no circumstances when God is not ruling over everything. No matter who we are, or where we are, it is God who grants us our abilities and strength.

Therefore, it is only God who can forgive mankind’s rebellion. Only He can forgive humanity’s desire to live separate from, and in denial of creator God. Mankind’s disobedience to God can only be forgiven and cleansed by the God we offend. As Mark 2:7 says, “who can forgive sins but God alone?” “Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb…’” (Isaiah 44:24). Our creator is our redeemer through His Son Jesus Christ. John 1:12 says, “all who did receive him (Jesus), who believed in his name, he (God) gave the right to become children of God.”

I shall leave you with the inspirational worship from the Levites of old. “Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise. 6 You are the LORD, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you” (Nehemiah 9:5-6).

17 – God Created Read More »

16 – Exposit Gods Word

Reasons Why Biblical Exposition Is Best

When considering the many teaching methods and styles used by 21st century ministries, the choices can become quite bewildering. As Bible teachers, we wish to minimise the potential communication tensions between teachers and listeners.

The apostle Paul declared the Church to be “the pillar and buttress of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). “A pillar is a concrete column that holds up the roof of a building. A buttress is anything that supports, strengthens, or stabilizes a structure. The picture emerging is that the church holds up the truth for all people to hear it amid the howling winds of error in the world. The truth remains constant and unshakable when the church faithfully discharges its duty. It is a pillar and buttress of the truth.” (Conrad Mbewe. God’s Design for the Church – A Guide for African Pastors and Ministry Leaders.)

That’s a fearful responsibility for teachers to accept and live up to. In today’s amoral world, it’s more important than ever for Church teachers to strive for the same degree of integrity as the apostles had. Paul explained to the Church in Corinth that “we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:2 NIV). Like the apostles, we are not permitted to do whatever we like with God’s Word. We do not have the luxury of creating inaccuracies or softening Biblical truth to appease our listeners. Like Paul, we are to teach God’s truth plainly and clearly so that our hearers recognise it as God’s Word.

Preachers and disciplers are called of God to emulate the teaching model found in Nehemiah 8:1-8, where the Law of Moses was brought before the assembled congregation and read. The priests then “helped the people to understand the Law …and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.”

  • The priests did not give their opinion or personal interpretation. The meaning came from the text itself, allowing people to understand the text. Neither the opinions of the priests or the people concerning the Law of Moses was of any value.
  • All the priests worked from, and explained, the same text from the Law of Moses. There was unity in their ministry as they exposed God’s people to God’s Law.
  • All the priests “helped the people to understand,” signifying a humble attitude working to elevate the people’s realisation of God speaking through His Word.
  • The priests did NOT help the people to explore what the Law of Moses meant to them. No, the meaning of the Law of Moses when God delivered the Law to Moses was the meaning that the priests explained to the people.

Put simply, expository preaching involves the detailed explanation of the biblical text. It’s explaining the authors intended meaning at the time of writing in such a way as to be understood today.

Campbell Morgan, pastor of London’s Westminster Chapel (1886-1919 & 1933-1943), taught that a sermon is limited by the text it is covering. Every word from the pulpit should amplify, elaborate on, or illustrate the text at hand, with a view towards clarity. He wrote, “The sermon is the text repeated more fully.” A sermon’s primary function is to present and explain the text.

As a method, expository preaching differs from topical preaching. With a topical sermon, the preacher starts with a topic and then finds material or passages in the Bible that speaks to that topic. For example, if the topic is “Laziness,” the preacher may refer to Proverbs 15:19; 18:9, possibly touching also on Romans 12:11 and 2 Thessalonians 3:10. None of the passages would be studied in depth; instead, each is used to support the theme of laziness. To do this, the texts being used are typically treated superficially in order to support the topic. This permits the teacher great liberty to insert his own thoughts into the study and teaching process.

Topical sermons use a Bible passage as support material for the topic. Whereas expository teaching uses the Bible passage as the topic, with other support material, including other Bible passages being used to explain and clarify the primary biblical text. Continual topical preaching brings out the preacher’s pet subjects, and in effect, even unknowingly, it can end up discipling the congregation towards the preacher instead of towards Christ.  

While exposition is not the only valid method of preaching, it is the best for teaching the plain meaning of the Bible. Expository preachers and teachers usually approach Scripture with the following prerequisites in their thinking:

  • The Bible is God’s Word. Since every word of God is pure and true (Psalm 12:6; 19:9; 119:140), every word deserves to be examined and understood in its own context.
  • Men need divine wisdom in order to understand God’s written Word (1 Corinthians 2:12-16). Therefore, diligent Bible study, while being dependent upon the Holy Spirit is essential.
  • With exposition, the preacher is subject to the text, not the other way around. Scripture is the authority, and its message must be presented honestly and apart from personal bias.
  • The preacher’s job is to clarify the text and call for a corresponding response from the hearers. This calls for expository listening by the hearers, where they are watching and listening for truth rising from the text of Scripture.
  • When teaching by exposition, all stories and illustrations are secondary and should point directly to the truth of the passage being taught.
  • An expositor cares little if his audience says, “What a great sermon.” Rather, the expositor genuinely wants to hear his listeners say, “now I understand what that passage means.”

Biblical expository teaching educates God’s people sequentially, which is God’s design for discipleship. Primarily, God’s people need to grow their understanding and experience of Jesus Christ through the Scriptures in the order of revelation as the Holy Spirit intended. When we read a letter from someone, we naturally begin reading at the start of the letter and continue to the end. It is the same with God’s Word. We begin teaching at the start of the book or letter in Scripture and continue sequentially and logically through to the end of it. Learning God’s truths in the order in which they were revealed by the Holy Spirit.

Biblical exposition covers more thoroughly all the required topics needed for the job of discipling believers to maturity. The preachers imagination and creativity is not needed, just his faithfulness to teach God’s Word as it was written.

Further reasons and benefits for expository preaching:
Expositional teaching seeks to deliver the Word of God in the same revelatory sequence and groupings of truths that God delivered them in the original Scriptures.

  • Expositional teaching follows the Holy Spirit’s order of subjects in keeping with the context of each passage.
  • Expositional teaching recognises the contextual, grammatical, and subject boundaries of a passage. This assists the teacher by preventing him from following personal preferences and pursuing subjects outside of the primary theme within the context.
  • Expositional teaching limits the human vulnerability of teachers having hobbyhorses, favourites, or pet subjects. There is a consistent flow of differing subjects as the text develops its contextual theme. Frequent repetition of the teachers’ subjects are avoided.
  • Expositional teaching recognises where and how the passage fits into the overall scheme of the book or letter, as well as Scripture as a whole.
  • Expositional teaching best integrates biblical truth with human listening abilities. That is, the Holy Spirit has maximum exposure through the Scriptures, which He authored (2Pe 1:20-21), to minister within the hearers. Therefore, His work of conviction within the hearers is potentially maximised.
  • Expositional teaching best provides for expositional listening and expositional prayer by the hearers. That is, people learn to listen and pray in alignment with the actual truths of the biblical texts. Hearers are listening for textual explanations and not opinions.

Expositional teaching covers more themes and topics than if you relied on the preacher’s creativity for choosing topics or themes.

  • By textual design, the Holy Spirit dictates the order (sequence) of truth to be learned by the hearers via the ebb and flow of biblical text.
  • It also helps restrict domineering people in a congregation from dictating the teaching schedule according to their desires and preferences.
  • Expository teach limits the opportunities for man-made traditions to dominate the preaching.

Expositional teaching submits the teacher to the sovereignty of God for the Holy Spirit’s work of applying His truth into the hearer’s lives.

  • Expositional teaching best heightens a sense of dependence upon the Holy Spirit, rather than the preacher hoping that he chose the right topic for the occasion.
  • Exposition naturally takes the teacher and the hearer alike on the Lord’s exploration of biblical truth. The textual narrative draws everyone into the context and therefore, into it’s truths which are to be applied.
  • It raises the hearer’s appreciation for the genius of Scripture, and the grace of God in giving it to His people.
  • It accelerates the hearer’s exposure to consecutive truth, application, and accountability.

Expositional teaching considers the grammatical, historical, and geographical content, causing the Bible to become an exciting adventure as hearers increasingly discover God. The Bible comes alive, allowing the fascinating truth of God to speak for itself, from the text itself. The Old Testament stories, and particularly the Gospel accounts in the New Testament, powerfully accomplish this, drawing readers into real life stories and lessons.

As the apostle Paul reminded Timothy; “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). It is this Word of God that saves, changes, and grows believers, not the preacher’s cleverness.

There are 2 foundational and personal biblical issues that every student of the Bible must come to grips with. These are best stated as questions:

  1. Does the student believe God the Holy Spirit is able and willing to say what He means and mean what He says in every line of Scripture?
  2. Does the student’s integrity hold him/her to a single and consistent method of interpretation for all of Scripture? (Refer to chapter 2 of “He will reign forever” by Michael J. Vlach.)

It is possibly the most challenging discipline for any student of the Bible, to maintain a single method of interpretation for all of God’s Word. This must be a priority if we are to faithfully teach God’s truth as He intended at the time of writing. This single discipline guards against manmade interference with Scripture.

Authors John MacArthur and Richard Mayhue speak to the matter of how to approach Scripture in the Preface of their book “Biblical Doctrine.”
Five interpretive principles guided our explanation of biblical revelation and doctrine:

  1. The literal principle. Scripture should be understood in its literal, natural, and normal sense. While the Bible does contain figures of speech and symbols, they are intended to convey literal truth. In general, however, the Bible speaks in literal terms and must be allowed to speak for itself.
  2. The historical principle. A passage should be interpreted in its historical context. What the author intended and what the text meant to its first audience must be taken into account. In this way, a proper, contextual understanding of the original meaning of Scripture can be grasped and articulated.
  3. The grammatical principle. This task requires an understanding of the basic grammatical structure of each sentence in the original languages. To whom do the pronouns refer? What is the tense of the main verb? By asking simple questions like these, the meaning of the text becomes clearer.
  4. The synthetic principle. This principle, the analogia scriptura, means that Scripture is to be its own interpreter. It assumes that the Bible does not contradict itself. Thus, if an understanding of a passage conflicts with a truth taught elsewhere in the Scriptures, that interpretation cannot be correct. Scripture must be compared with Scripture to discover its accurate and full meaning.
  5. The clarity principle. God intended Scripture to be understood. However, not every portion of the Bible is equally clear. Therefore, clearer portions should be employed to interpret the less clear. (MacArthur, John; Mayhue, Richard. Biblical Doctrine (Kindle Locations 609-624). Crossway. Kindle Edition.)

“Got Questions” includes the following when speaking about expositional preaching. (
There should be two main goals of expositional preaching. First is the goal to discover and explain the original, historic, and grammatical meaning of the passage, or, to put it another way, “God’s intended meaning.” This is the divinely inspired message that God had for the original audience. The second is closely related—to help people apply to their lives the truths revealed in the passage. Some discount the ability of expositional preaching to address the needs of today’s churchgoers, but that overlooks the fact that “the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). The power to transform lives is found only in the Word of God as applied by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of men and women. Great presentation is good but it is not life-changing. While there is a place for topical preaching, it needs to supplement expositional preaching, not replace it.

The work of teaching God’s Word begins with a devoted attitude and commitment to declare the truth of God’s Word. This motivates the teacher to study and preach the mind of God which is found in the inerrant Word of God. A consistent method of study uses a consistence method of interpretation. This requires disciplines of hermeneutics, which deals with how we interpret Scripture, and exegesis, which is the explanation, or interpretation, of Scripture. To exposit God’s Word faithfully, dedication to consistency in these disciplines is required.

Accuracy in preparation should lead to faithful expository teaching and preaching as the text of God’s Word is opened and explained to God’s people. Therefore, typically, exposition teaches through books and letters of the Bible, beginning at the start of the text and finishing at the end.

Even when a specific passage is taught as a standalone message, it is treated with the same careful and contextual study so the text can be exposited by the teacher. This allows the truth of God to speak for itself without personal ideas becoming the dominant theme being taught.

May we all pursue sound doctrine through our study and expositional teaching of God’s Word. The goal is “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Ephesians 4:12-14).

16 – Exposit Gods Word Read More »

15 – Faith and Doctrine

We live in a world where the necessity for faith and truth is played down and minimised. The worldly concept of faith and truth is fluid, flexible, and without absolutes, to the point of irrelevance, except where faith and truth can be used for personal advantage. This is not new, as the world has always resisted the absolutes of spiritual and moral laws, especially ones found in God’s Word. Believers were confronted in New Testament times with the same battles against faith and truth as we are today.

When speaking of faith in Jesus Christ we are forced to think through the matter of truth and doctrine. “Doctrine refers to a set of beliefs that are held by a group of people. In this case, we are talking about a set of beliefs that are held by the church. The beliefs are clear enough to be taught by or to them. Doctrine can also refer to one of those beliefs, e.g., the doctrine of justification by faith. Again, it is sufficiently clear that it can be taught to people.” (Mbewe, Conrad. God’s Design for the Church. Crossway. Kindle Edition.) For the Christian, doctrine should rise from the Word of God as the only authoritative source of truth which governs our beliefs and our teachings.

The importance of believing truth and translating those truths into doctrines that we teach cannot be overstated. Our living is always determined by what we believe, therefore, to grow the Church to maturity we must have sound doctrine. Doctrine is a central expression of our faith in God and our service to those we disciple. The Church must express faith in Christ through understanding God’s truth and teaching those doctrinal truths to others. Wrong belief always leads to wrong living, and the Church is not exempt from this rule.

This is so central to Church life that the Lord made it a requirement of those who lead His people. Elders “must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9). Beginning with the shepherds of the body of Christ, a tight grip on the doctrines taught through the Old Testament, plus those taught by Christ and the apostles must be maintained.

Elders are to be clear in their understanding of doctrine so that they are able to defend it when others come against it. Should the opposition to sound doctrine be aggressive, an elder should be able to rebuke the error of those who fight truth with the Sword of the Spirit, exposing the error for what it is.

Satan, being “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Satan’s highest priority is to prevent people from knowing the truth of Jesus Christ. By doing this, he prevents unbelieving people from understanding the majestic glory of Christ who could be their Saviour if only they would repent. Unbelievers need to be taught the doctrine of Christ, even in the simplest of ways, so that they can see the son of God correctly. In understanding Christ correctly, a sinner will see themselves correctly, which leads to belief in the gospel truth.

Paul instructed Titus to warn God’s people against those who devote “themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth” (Titus 1:14). Resistance and even rebellion against the absolutes of God lives in the heart of sinful mankind. Paul wanted Titus to realise the severity of this problem which can easily impact the Church if we allow it. If we fill our minds with cultural myths and human thinking about spiritual matters, we will certainly end up believing everything EXCEPT the truth. “For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers” (Titus 1:10). Titus had the job of countering all the false ideas and false beliefs through the clear teaching of truth. This is why biblical truths are called doctrines, and they are to be taught authoritatively.

As in all ages, we live in a time where people, generally speaking, do “not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). This is perhaps one of Satan’s most effective strategies within the Church, to convince people that they should only listen to teaching that satisfies their fleshly passions. Such people will only tolerate listening to sound doctrine for a short time. They will invariably rise to challenge Church leadership, demanding softer, more accommodating teachers. Sadly, if they do not get what they want, they will either go to war against the elders by causing division in the Church, or they will leave the Church all together.

These types of people can creep into the Church without being recognised for who they really are. Typically, they are people who are “always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). The absolutes of God’s Word are ugly to these people, and to be avoided at all cost. They will resist and complain about all kinds of definitive and authoritative teaching that makes the truth of God’s Word clear and believable. They are content to be on a journey of never ending spiritual exploration without ever arriving at the truth.

The apostle Paul addressed these kinds of people in the Corinth Church when he wrote “ I could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:1). Towards the end of the same letter Paul again challenges these people by saying “do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature” (1 Corinthians 14:20). God’s desire for the Church is for believers to grow to maturity in their applied knowledge of doctrinal truth. Mature believers are strong believers who remain faithful to Christ.

The Church is the Buttress of Truth
The Church has both the privilege and the responsibility of being God’s truth bearers to the world. Paul gave Timothy a number of precise instructions for this very purpose, so that he “may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). The Church is God’s household, God’s place of dwelling through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Twice in Isaiah 65:16, Isaiah states that Yahweh is “the God of truth.” Intrinsic to God’s holiness is His truthfulness. He is incapable of anything other than absolute and definitive truth. Therefore, the Psalmist proclaimed, “the sum of your word is truth” (Psalm 119:160). Jesus explained to the Samaritan woman at the well, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). The only acceptable expression of worship that accurately reflects the nature of God is worship permeated with truth.

The Church is the household of God’s people who manifest truth. Therefore, the teachings of the Church must be characterised by a consistent presentation of God centred, God authored truth which flows out of God’s Word of truth, the Bible. Doctrine is simply the structured and orderly presentation of biblical truth on God’s behalf as His ambassadors (2Co 5:20). The Churches’ presentation of God’s truth is evidence that they are the living human “church of the living God.”

Paul unashamedly tells Timothy, that the Church, regardless of age or maturity, is “a pillar and buttress of the truth.” Paul uses common building terminology to describe the importance of these qualities. The pillar would have been a stone column that held up the upper levels of the building as well as the roof. While the buttress would have been any supporting structure, from the foundation to any other supporting or stabilising materials used in the building. Many Bible translations simply refer to the buttress and the foundation, which is true, but a little limiting.

Paul’s point is clear, as “a pillar and buttress of the truth” the Church is where people go to be presented with consistent and strong truth from God. In order to be a “pillar and buttress” the truth that is proclaimed must be strong enough to support the entire structure of belief and life as representative of God Himself. Paul is impressing heavily upon Timothy the absolute essential nature of teaching sound doctrines as structures for a correct faith in God. When the whirlwinds of life and error blast against the Church, it stands firm in Christ because it has been methodically built using Biblical “pillars and buttresses.” The Church is therefore, to be the safe house where people run for spiritual safety and security because the Church is built strong with the building material of God’s truth.

Paul’s description of God’s building material used in the Church enables us to understand more clearly the intensity of his exhortation to the Corinth Church. Having been purified by the Lord from all the fleshing sins detailed in 1 Corinthians, Paul writes again for restoration, reconciliation and strengthening of this revived Church. “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

The “strongholds” Paul speaks of are the “arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God.” The Church is the strong house of God where truth is proclaimed with strength and clarity for the purpose of destroying wrong thinking about God. Whether it’s a non-believer with a completely wrong understanding of God, or a believer with an inaccurate or distorted understanding of God, Church is the place to have them corrected. In fact, the truth of God’s Word is to have the effect of destroying error.

Not only so, but the divine power of God through His Word goes onto “take every thought captive to obey Christ.” Every time Scripture is proclaimed it is an offensive weapon of God, the Sword of the Spirit, attacking Satan’s wrong thinking in the minds and hearts of the hearers. The Church is the household of God’s people who have had their thoughts, their beliefs, taken prisoner by Christ. The evidence of this divine work is that the Church is to obey the Lord Jesus Christ.

Sound Doctrine Sanctifies
The Church is unique, it stands alone in a privileged place of service for Christ as a body of redeemed sinners. “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). Paul specifically told the Galatian believers that they were part of “the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10), as it is faith which is given by God (Eph 2:8) and it is faith that initiates salvation through the gospel. Saved sinners are immediately baptised into Christ and made members of Christ’s body, the Church (Rom 6:3). Now, joined together as saints of God they live for a new purpose, with new connected relationships with other saved sinners. Owned by God, for God, and energised by God, these citizens function as a family household for the pleasure and glory of their heavenly Father. This justified body of believers now wish to “do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

But the problem is, we saved sinners know that we “have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out” (Romans 7:18) in our own strength. We all know that we are not as holy in our living as we wish we were. Praise God, He has provided the lifelong ministry of the indwelling Holy Spirit to persistently carry on with the work of sanctification. Sanctification is the constant development of increasing holiness, increasing purity. Paul described it this way, “may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Every part of our lives is being purified continuously, and this will continue until the Lord Jesus returns. Sanctification is a spiritual work that practically strives to change us so that we become closer and closer to being blameless. This takes time and much patience, and the God of all grace perseveres at this work in our lives.

Realising this, the members of God’s household treat each other differently, “speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Ephesians 4:15). When truth is spoken with a loving attitude and in a loving tone of voice, in loving relationships, truth becomes a powerful and effective tool for God. The goal of truthful love is Christlikeness. This is the wonderful ministry of sanctification, growing, changing, developing, forgiving, and kindly reconciling relationships for the glory of Christlike character. This is holiness in practice. This is the desire of the Head of the Church for His body.

Sanctification must touch every relationship in a believer’s life with the truth of God’s Word so that the fruit of righteousness can be produced. Paul taught on the ways in which believers are to treat each other in many of his letters. And he made an interesting application to Titus regarding the behaviour of Christian slaves towards their masters. “Slaves are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour” (Titus 2:9-10). Even in the most difficult and demanding relationships, the believer is to live Christ’s submission. A submissive attitude resists arguing, and it submits for the blessing of the other person.

This Christlike submission is the manifestation of good faith, genuine faith, a faith that comes from God. Now watch the connection Paul makes not in verse 10. Faith is to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour. That is, faith decorates the believer for the public display of doctrine. God intends faith to be displayed for everyone to see the truths and teachings of God’s Word in your life. Doctrine is central to living by faith and living a sanctified life for Christ. Without doctrine we cannot know how to live because we cannot know the truth of God that is to be applied. Members of the Church are constantly “being transformed into the same image (Christlikeness) from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18). The Holy Spirit relentlessly works in our lives, through joyful and painful times, through victories and failures, to transform God’s children to be more like His Son. And sanctification requires the truth of doctrine to do this.

Some will resist doctrine
As we noted earlier in this lesson, wherever God is at work you will also find Satan at work. Satan will use any method at his disposal to dilute God’s truth and convince people that the doctrines of God are of no value. Most often Satan will employ the services of people who are happy to become a member of a local Church, because that is where they can cause the most damage on Satan’s behalf. Large portions of the New Testament are dedicated to instructing the Church on how to deal with such people and with their wrong teachings.

In the closing chapter of Paul’s letter to the Church in Rome, having written the most detailed and exquisite explanation of the gospel, he ends with a warning. “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve” (Romans 16:17-18). Fifteen chapters of the most majestic doctrinal truths of God and salvation with many practical applications given, equipped the readers to defend against the enemies’ attacks from with. No matter how nice, how attractive, how smooth talking, or how wealthy a person may be, if they cause division over the doctrines taught in God’s Word, they are to be avoided. Doctrinal error can never produce purity. Error always promotes the self-righteousness of the person promoting the error, and it always seeks to divide the Church instead of building unity.

Often, Satan uses smooth talk and flattery (to) deceive the hearts of the naïve people in the Church who are not mature in their faith. This happens partly because those who are not knowledgeable with applied theology have minds open to worldly or fleshly thinking. Often error will sound appealing because it seeks to satisfy fleshly appetites. It is up the mature Church members, especially elders, to keep an eye out for such divisive people sneaking into the Church.

Paul carefully instructed the Ephesian Church on this very matter. Pastors, Teachers, and Evangelists all minister in the Church for the spiritual growth of believers. This is for the purpose that all members of your Church “may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Ephesians 4:14). Faithfulness in teaching the whole counsel of God (Act 20:27) to the whole assembly of God’s people grows inoculation against Satan’s devious schemes of error, division, and sinful living. As the writer to the Hebrews cautioned, “let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God” (Hebrews 6:1). Gifted teachers are to be careful to mature the diet of Bible teaching as the Church ages. Satan uses human cunning to deceive believers who permanently remain babylike in the Christian faith.

Resistance against sound biblical doctrine is the devil’s work. Resistance never causes sanctification for greater holiness. Resistance always produces more and more sins of the heart. The sinful heart will eventually leak out sins of anger, unforgiveness, lying, carnal behaviour, outbursts of temper, and division of Christ’s Church. So, Paul says, watch out for such people, and protect God’s Church from such people.

The local Church is to be the school of truth, the local school of biblical theology, of gospel compelled doctrine. The local Church is to be the place where people in the community go to discover spiritual realities as spoken by God. It is the Church that teaches God’s truth for the purpose of persuading others to become believers of truth. There is to be NOTHING random, haphazard, or casual about the local Churches proclamation of sound doctrine. Biblical doctrine is evangelistic, it’s practical by nature, and it’s satisfying. Doctrine happily expresses faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

We shall give the last word to our brother Paul. “It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11).

15 – Faith and Doctrine Read More »

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