Church: Who Needs It?

May 14, 2017

These are my notes from a message by Pastor Russ Sukhia of Liberty Church PCA on Ephesians 4:1-16.

Two-thirds of Americans believe churches are irrelevant…this is evidence of the growing apostasy in today’s churches.  For this reason, a fair question facing most of America is: can we worship God apart from corporate worship?  Why do churches exist?

Local churches exist…and corporate worship is necessary and essential because:

God commands us to gather in local churches (ecclesia) to worship Him.  God commands corporate worship!  Ecclesia = “the called out ones”…we are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves  together.

The apostles planted organized churches…we see the biblical truth of corporate worship throughout the NT.  God lays out the specific responsibilities for church leaders, the operation of the church and disciplining the flock.  Deacons are responsible for the material needs of the flock; Pastors/Elders are the spiritual leaders and teachers of the flock.

The early NT churches were connected with one another.  The term presbytery means the collection/body of elders from local churches in a given region.

Since the LORD provides much information about local churches and their organization, they must be important to Him.  So why have a local church?  Because this is God’s idea…and man is not wiser than God!

A local church is where we corporately worship God as a body of believers as He commands us…worshipping Him in Spirit and in Truth

A local church is where we are taught the Scriptures…where we hear the Word of the LORD.  Local churches teach and edify the flock…and God gives spiritual gifts to believers to accomplish this.

A local church provides fellowship, communion and accountability…to share/bear each other’s burdens.  The term koinonia means fellowship of believers.

A local church is for service…to equip the saints for the work of ministry.  Each believer is to serve Christ with his/her spiritual gifts.  We are not to be mere spectators, critiquing the service…we are commanded to edify one another.

 No earthly church is without error…but doctrine is important since we live in a fallen world filled with false teachers

The earthly, universal church is important to God because it is Christ’s bride.

To God Be The Glory!


Our Good Shepherd

May 7, 2017

These are my notes from a message by Pastor Russ Sukhia of Liberty Church PCA.  It is from his series on the Psalms and is based on Psalm 23.

Click here to listen to Pastor Russ’ message in its entirety.

v1: The LORD is my SHEPHERD

Consider how Christ is our shepherd:

A shepherd must purchase his sheep

He puts his mark on his sheep

He provides food for his sheep

He leads his sheep…walking before them — setting an example

He defends his sheep from enemies

He has compassion on them…i.e., when they are sick

He knows them individually, calling them by name

He takes special care of the lambs

He watches over them by night

He will discipline/chasten the sheep when necessary

He will seek out the wandering sheep – they will follow their shepherd; not strangers

 

v2: I shall not want

Believers will not lack: the peace of salvation; communion with Christ; answered prayer; victory over sin.

As a believer, I will not lack any of these good things from above that benefits my soul – unbelievers will lack these things, whereas believers have all they need (i.e., salvation).

 

v3: lie down in green pastures   (green pastures = rich pastures)

Very rarely will sheep lie down.  They only do that when there is: no fear, no friction from other sheep, no distractions, no hunger.  For a shepherd to provide green/rich pastures, he must labor to prepare the land for his sheep.  It doesn’t happen by chance.  God has labored to provided me with rich pastures

 

Still waters = waters of rest 

A good shepherd will rescue his sheep from a raging river.  He will tend to his sheep when they are in distress.  A good shepherd will seek out and return a lost sheep to his flock.  God’s Spirit & God’s blessings restore our soul when it is cast down.  Christ has compassion on His followers who have been cast down or cast out

 

Paths of righteousness

Sheep are notorious creatures of habit; therefore, the good shepherd must rotate his flock to new pastures to keep the sheep from starving.  The shepherd must prepare narrow paths for his sheep to follow.  We have many paths we can take in life…many broad roads that lead to destruction that we can travel (Satan wants that).  Christ has prepared a narrow path for His sheep that leads to life.  We need to cultivate good habits when we are young, so that when we are old we will follow them.

 

For His Name’s sake

As Christ’s sheep, we obey for the honor of the Shepherd (1Peter 2:9) and out of our thanksgiving for all He has done for us.  Let us not give occasion to God’s enemies to blaspheme.

 

To God Be The Glory!


The Lifesaving Post – an Adapted Parable

May 3, 2017

John 21:15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”

On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks were frequent there once was a makeshift lifesaving post. The building was nothing more than a hut and there was just one tiny boat, but the few faithful members kept a constant watch over the sea. They searched for the lost day and night with no thought for themselves. Some who were saved wanted to become associated with the post and give of their time, money and efforts supporting its work. New boats were purchased and new squads trained. The once little lifesaving station began to grow.

Some members became unsatisfied with the building, feeling a more comfortable structure should be provided as the first refuge for those saved from the sea. They replaced the cots with beds and upgraded the furniture. The lifesaving post quickly became a popular gathering place for its members and they took pride in its beautiful decorations and furnishings. Over time however, fewer and fewer members had a burden for going out to sea on lifesaving missions, so they hired others to do this work.

John 21:16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

About this time a large ship wrecked off the coast. The hired crews brought in many cold and half-drowned people. They were dirty, sick and they made a mess of the refurbished structure. A meeting of the property committee resulted in a shower house being constructed outside where victims could clean themselves before coming inside.

Soon a split arose among the members. Most wanted to shut down the unpleasant lifesaving activities in favor of more pleasing pastimes. Others insisted that saving lives was their primary mission, emphasizing their point by reminding everyone the building was still called a lifesaving post. A vote was taken and the majority prevailed. So those who wished to continue saving the lives of those shipwrecked started their own lifesaving station farther down the coast.

Years passed and this new post changed over time in much the same way as its predecessor. It evolved into little more than a social club; so another lifesaving post was established. History continued repeating itself and if you visit this coastline today you’ll find a number of ornate buildings dotting the shoreline.

Shipwrecks remain a frequent reality in these dangerous waters…but sadly most of the people drown!

John 21:17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.

There are people all around us who are hungry for the true gospel. As believers, God commands us to feed them. Whenever we witness to an unsaved loved one, pass out a CD of our Sunday worship service, direct people to an outreach website, or give someone a Bible tract, we are feeding His sheep.

Purposefully letting these opportunities slip by is like seeing someone fighting for their life in rough seas…and doing nothing about it.

To God Be The Glory!


The Restoration of Peter

April 30, 2017

These are my notes from a message by Pastor Russ Sukhia of Liberty Church PCA based on John Chapter 21.

Click here to listen to Pastor Russ’ message in its entirety.

What a tragic fall for Peter…who had witnessed most of Christ’s miracles!  All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t restore Peter to the fellowship he had with Christ after his denials.

When Christ yelled to the disciples to cast their nets on the right side, these experienced fishermen accepted his Word.  It would have been easy for them to say “We’re the experts here”.  Plus, imagine how tired/cranky they were.  When they realize it is Jesus speaking to them, typical Peter jumps into the water to get to him quickest.

v9 – the last time Peter saw a fire of coals, he was warming himself and denied Christ 3 times.

v11 – there were 153 fish – fishermen would know how many fish they caught…it makes sense they counted their catch.

“Son of Jonah” — Peter was the son of Jonah…but spiritually so too because he didn’t obey God’s command (denied Christ).

V15 – “agape” love is unconditional, deep love – this is the love God has for us.  “phileo” love is tender affection – this is how Peter now responds to Christ’s questions.

Christ asked 3 times whether Peter loved Him…using the words agape love, then phileo love.  Asking Peter 3 times if he loved Him reminded Peter of his 3 denials that he even knew Christ.

Peter had previously exhibited spiritual pride…”though all forsake You, I will not”.  This was like Moses drawing water from the rock and Elijah in the cave wondering if he was the only believer left.  Gone is Peter’s confidence and spiritual pride.  He didn’t presume to say he loved Christ with unconditional (agape) love à he was humble.  See Mark 14:29

v17 – Peter was “grieved”…like the rich young ruler.

Our responsibility as Christians is to: “Feed My Lambs”, “Tend My Sheep” and “Feed My Sheep”

Apart from God’s grace, Peter could not have remained true to his love for Christ — perseverance comes from God.  God is the Author and Finisher of our faith.

Once God saves us, no power can snatch us away — we are eternally secure…even though we may stumble/fall terribly.

Peter’s terrible failure of denying Christ wasn’t the end – Christ restored him and used him mightily.  Christ forgave/restored Peter in full view of the rest of the disciples…publicly readmitting Peter to the church and fellowship.  His failure was forgiven by Christ, and Peter humbly served Him for the rest of his life…and eternity.

Sin is never a minor matter – repentance is a necessity.  Confession and repentance must come before full forgiveness.

True repentance results in a changed life

God will continue to use us after we repent – the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sins.

Christ’s forgiveness allows us to begin again – and to be mightily used by God to advance His Kingdom.

 

To God Be The Glory!


Are There Carnal Christians?

April 26, 2017

Is there such a thing as a carnal Christian?    

The idea comes from I Corinthians 3:1 “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, [even] as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able [to bear it], neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas [there is] among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I [am] of Apollos; are ye not carnal?” 

In these verses God is not saying these men are true believers.  God is saying that as babes in Christ they have very little showing of spirituality – if they were indeed babes in Christ.  Reading carefully reveals these people were not yet saved; they were still of the flesh; they were not really of Christ. 

The term “carnal Christian” is an oxymoron…like jumbo shrimp.  I John 3:9 says, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” 

If we are a child of God, then we have experienced the new birth in our soul; we have been born of God.  From this moment on, in our soul essence we will not want to sin. Unfortunately, we still have bodies that lust after sin.  The result is that in our body we’ll think in terms of the flesh.  In this sense, we’ll be carnal.    

CASE A:

Let’s say we’re just a member of a congregation and while others probably think we’re saved, we know in our heart of hearts that we’re not.    

If that describes us, then when we begin to live in the flesh, in both our body and soul, we like that sin because we’re not born of God. There’s nothing in us saying, ‘you can’t live that way.’  Maybe our conscience will bother us a bit, but it doesn’t take long for us to sear our conscience.   As long as we can get away with that sin, we’re going to continue in it because it isn’t at odds with our nature.    

Consider the unsaved man in I Corinthians 5 who was living with his father’s wife.  Someone involved in this gross fornication within the church (remember, his actions were public knowledge and the church elders were probably warning him about this, yet he continued with his grievous sin) is giving evidence that he’s not saved.  Clearly, this man was carnal minded — but he was not a Christian.   

Many people attend church who believe they’re Christians because they’ve joined or been baptized.  But they’ve never been born from above; consequently, they live like the world.  On Sunday they can be sweet and light and happy and wonderful — but during the week, they can’t be distinguished from the world.

CASE B:

What happens in our life if we are truly born again and we commit a grievous sin?  Not only will our conscience be troubling us, but we will feel violated in our soul too.  Many of us struggle with a besetting sin over a number of years.  Every time we become involved in that sin it’s not a happy proposition at all.  Regardless of whether others know we’re dealing with that sin (maybe we’re “getting away” with it), it’s still a very sore point in our life.   

Every time we commit it, there is the aftertaste of remorse, unhappiness and distress in our soul.  To continue to live this way is antagonistic toward our resurrected soul. God will chastise us because He indwells born again believers.  Finally the truth will dawn on us – one way or another.  Maybe a family member will “catch us”…maybe we will have something taken away…but one way or another we will come to the realization that “I’ve got to repent and I’ve got to turn away from this sin. I can’t go on.” 

CASE A (Revisited):

What would happen if a true believer were committing a gross sin like the man in I Corinthians 5?  If the pastor or an elder approached him and said, “We understand you’ve been living with your father’s wife in a sexual relationship,” the reaction would be predictable.  

The true believer’s reaction would be akin to David’s when Nathan the prophet confronted him.  Nathan said “Thou art the man!” after David had been guilty of adultery and murder.  The repentance would come pouring out.  “Oh God, against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned.”  That’s what would happen in the life of the born again believer. 

When we sin, we are grievously troubled by our sin.

If you find that you identify more with Case “A” than you would like, and you want to know more about the Good News preached in the Scriptures — please click the link at the top of this website titled “The Gospel”. 

To God Be The Glory!


Joy Comes in the Morning

April 23, 2017

These are my notes from an Easter message by Pastor Russ Sukhia of Liberty Church PCA.  The text is taken from John 19:38-20:31.

Click here to listen to Pastor Russ’ message in its entirety.

After the crucifixion, Christ was either physically, supernaturally raised from the dead or He was not.  There is no in-between.

Mary went to the tomb early while it was still dark.  Other women were with her planning to anoint His Body.  They probably did not have any idea how they would overcome the large stone sealing the tomb. But this obstacle and their love for Christ did not dissuade them from going – and from serving Him in whatever way they could.

Mary was likely alternating between depression and faith.  ”On top of everything that’s happened, now His Body is missing”

Even seeing two angels in 20:11 did not bring Mary out of her despondency.

Then Mary saw a Man and supposed Him to be the gardener.  If His body had been taken, how could she carry Him back to the tomb?  This is further evidence that Mary was not thinking through all the details because she was so despondent and sorrowful.

Mary was in a depressed stupor – and nothing short of actually seeing Christ could get her out of it.

John sees linen cloths – folded neatly around the Body after the spices had been applied.  The linens were not mixed up – they were still neatly in place just as they would be if the Body suddenly disappeared.

The cloths were not touched by humans – they were like a discarded chrysalis.

This proves the Body was not stolen and that Christ was not merely unconscious and then somehow managed to escape Himself.

Peter and John were not expecting a physical, bodily, supernatural resurrectionbut seeing the evidence in the tomb, they believed!

The disciples were in a locked, shut room – then Christ suddenly appeared in their midst.

He materialized in their presence.  They obviously were scared, and Christ’s first words are “Peace”

Christ gave His Spirit to them to comfort them. At Pentecost, His Spirit empowered them to preach the gospel.

When the disciples saw the physical, supernaturally risen Christ, they believed!

Thomas was not present when Christ first appeared to the rest of the disciples (v25)

Thomas seemed to have been in a similar depressed stupor like Mary.  He was deeply depressed.

After 8 days, Thomas did not have the faith the others had after seeing Christ.  Then Jesus appeared again.

Christ goes directly to Thomas and Thomas needed no further convincing.

Thomas saw, believed and declared “My Lord and My God!”  Christ did not correct him.  He accepted Thomas’ worship because Jesus is eternal God.

Are we like Thomas?  Is the resurrection just too far-fetched?

Knowing all that what we know today from:

–          the eyewitness accounts

–          the rest of Scripture

–          Christ’s own testimony and ministry

–          the results of His miracles

–          the disciples’ lives post-resurrection

–          the disciples’ persecutions and martyrdoms

we cannot simply shrug the resurrection off as foolish talk.

In our sinful states, we love darkness rather than Light.  We do not want to believe Christ is risen!

But if Christ is risen, I cannot be the ruler of my own life…setting my own rules and laws

This is why every sinner needs salvation through Christ.

If you have never heard the gospel, or are not sure what it is, please click the menu button at the top of this website.

THE PHYSICAL RESURRECTION OF CHRIST MEANS IF WE SEE OUR SIN AND TURN TO CHRIST, THEN WE CAN BE ASSURED OF OUR OWN SPIRITUAL RESURRECTION – WE ARE JOINT-HEIRS WITH CHRIST.

To God Be The Glory!


Obedience After Salvation

April 19, 2017

(1 Sam 15:26 KJV) And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel.

The above passage touches upon a major principle which should be heeded by Christians in every generation. Saul disobeyed God and didn’t completely annihilate the Amalekites. Instead, he saved Agag, the king of the Amalekites plus he brought back all the animals that he thought he’d use for sacrifices. The problem was that God told Saul to go in and completely destroy all the people as well as the animals.

Saul didn’t do this.  Instead he chose to go his own way and set the rules for the spoils.  No one can ever rebel against God to the glory of God, nor can one be disobedient to the glory of God.  When God gives a directive, it is to be obeyed to the letter. This is why Samuel asked Saul if God is more concerned with sacrifices than with obedience.

Obedience, not service, is the bedrock of the Christian life.  Within the context of obedience, we will find our place of service.  Obedience is not the obeying of ceremonies, special days, or keeping any part of the law for salvation.  Our salvation is entirely by grace.  One can try to obey every tenet of the law for their whole life – but without the substitutionary atonement of Christ removing their sins, they will still perish.

Obedience after salvation is grace-based; it’s an obedience the Christian possesses in order to bring glory to God.  It is the desire of the believer who wishes to be used of the Lord.

God replaced Saul with David.  No matter what position we’re in…whether it’s in ministry or business…God can remove us from it if we adopt Saul’s attitude.  God promotes…and He can demote too.

(Ezek 21:26 KJV) Thus saith the Lord GOD; Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. (Mat 23:12 KJV) And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. It is a principle we either learn voluntarily, or we are taught it.

To God Be The Glory!