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  1. CONTROL YOUR DESIRES Pr 4:23-27 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil. That is, take care as to what you desire. Desires can lead to life or death. Desires start in the heart, but are reflected by things like what one says (the mouth), what one looks at (the eyes), and where one goes (the feet). In fact the converse is also true. By controlling what you say, look at, and where you go you can affect your desires. "Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature." Gal 5:16 and "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires." Gal 5:24 The Proverb Series
  2. Those who have been saved will endure "if they had been of us they would have remained with us" 1John 2:19 And Jesus indicates that a person's fate is finalized upon coming to faith in Christ. "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." John 5:24 Those who abandon their faith in Christ to put their trust in their own performance to save them have not endured and as such were never really saved to begin with.
  3. First of all God does have slaves. Ro 6:22 "But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God" Secondly there doesn't existed this hypothetical person of yours who has been born of God yet continues to sin. For it is written, "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God." 1John 3:9 Let alone blasphemes the Holy Spirit. No one who belongs to Christ falls away, as John indicates, "They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us." 1John 2:19 But what the scriptures says you discard as a "cheap dodge" of the question. (I wonder if that's considered blasphemy?)
  4. DO THE GOOD YOU CAN Pr 3:27 Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Likewise James writes, "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins." Jas 4:17 Sins of omission are easier to overlook than sins of commission. Thus one needs to be all the more prudent in evaluating whether there are things they are not doing which they should be. "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Gal 6:10 The Proverb Series
  5. ACCEPT DISCIPLINE Pr 3:11-12 My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. (Heb 12:5-7) There are two extremes when people react to discipline. Some who are disciplined take it too lightly, and so don't learn from the discipline. When God disciplines us, we shouldn't take it too lightly. But on the other hand, we shouldn't take it too seriously. Thus it warns fathers, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Eph 6:4 and "Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged." Col 3:21 There are those disciplined by the Lord who may feel that God has completely rejected them. That is not the case. "Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Heb 12:10,11 The Proverb Series
  6. BE GENEROUS Pr 3:9-10 Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. This is one of the many promises concerning generosity. Practicing generosity also helps one to measure to what degree money, in the form of greed, has become an idol in one's life and if so, generosity helps to overcome such greed. Thus Jesus said to the rich young ruler, who thought that he was a "good" person, "One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me." Mr 10:21 But the man went away sad. Do you find it difficult to give away money? A good New Testament reference to the promise above is 2Cor 9:6-11 Here we learn first that, contrary to a legalistic "tithing" concept, the Christian is to give whatever amount and to whatever cause he has decided in his heart. This is a good principle when it comes to deciding on the amount to give to a particular cause. Give up to the point where you feel reluctant to give more. (As you practice generosity you may find that you're increasingly feeling less reluctant the more you give. But that's often a matter of practice) And secondly we learn that the purpose of God granting prosperity to the generous giving is in order that they may use it for further acts of generosity. Now there many opportunities to practice generosity whether giving to individuals or to charity organization. As an example, I mention some charities at http://www.bcbsr.com/topics/charity.html The Proverb Series
  7. TRUST GOD, FORSAKING YOUR OWN OPINION Pr 3:5-7 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. The Bible provides us with God's understanding of things. So when our understanding of things conflicts with the Word of God - let us trust that God knows best. Many pray to know God's will about particular circumstances. Try to apply the Bible in everything you do. And then you will get the guidance you seek. Don't think that you know better than God. Fear God and avoid being involved in anything which you recognize as evil. The Proverb Series
  8. FINDING THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD Pr 2:1-5 My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. Listening to what God says with an application-oriented mindset shows that one understands the fear of the LORD. Notice the verbs here: The Proverb Series One needs to ACCEPT what God says. For some will read the Bible but not accept what it says. One needs to STORE UP his commands. Scripture memory, for example, is a good application. One needs to TURN their ears to wisdom. Taking time and effort to listen. And to APPLY your heart. Bible Study without applications is not really Bible Study. And to CALL OUT and CRY ALOUD - one application being to pray for insight. And to LOOK and SEARCH as for hidden treasure. Jesus spoke of the kingdom of God being like a "treasure hidden in a field". Matt 13:44
  9. ILL-GOTTEN GAIN Pr 1:19 Such is the end of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the lives of those who get it. Much of Proverbs speaks of the general principle that one cannot benefit by doing evil. In fact generally speaking when people do evil, they do it with the intention of obtaining some benefit for themselves, but they end up worse off in the end. And if one repents of their ill-gotten gain, they're just going to have to give it back - and more. Notice the repentance of Zacchaeus, the tax collector, who stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham." So consider how you might have cheated someone or stolen something, and consider what would be an appropriate compensation to return to them. The Proverb Series
  10. Beware of Unjustified Assurance Those who deny the correlation between salvation status and behavior are false teachers and practice deception as John and Paul mention a number of places: As mentioned previously, Free Grace Theology advocates the kind of deception spoken of here. "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them." Mt 7:15,16a, which is part of the test. Free Gracers attempt to remove the concept of testing, saying that one should not judge another, whereas Paul instructs, "I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked man from among you." 1Cor 5:11-13 By disallowing the exercise of discernment, posers hope to get away with misbehavior. And indeed such has been the case in much of 20th Century "Christianity". Given such misbehavior, the vast majority of Christians in this last century have little basis for the assurance of their salvation, as I also have little assurance that most so called "Christians" are saved. Hopefully the situation will change for this present century, but I doubt it. For whatever is popular is seldom Biblical. "The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." 1John 2:17 "My brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure." 2Peter 1:10a The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources
  11. Assurance of Salvation - an Examination Though once saved, always saved, there should be the question as to whether the "once saved" actually occurred in any individual case. Thus Paul questioned the Corinthians, "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you— unless, of course, you fail the test?" 2Cor 13:5 The major theme of the epistle of 1John is Assurance of Salvation, where John lays out much of the examination of which Paul mentions. Given the inevitable correlation between one's salvation status and one's lifestyle, the assurance of salvation is to be proportional to the degree to which one behaves as a child of God should. Consider the Thessalonians of whom Paul said, "For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you" 1Th 1:4 How did Paul know that God chose them? What was the basis of Paul's assurance of the salvation of the Thessalonian Christians? He goes on to say, "because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia— your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead— Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath." 1Th 1:5-10 Paul's assurance of the salvation of the Thessalonian Christians was based upon the evidence of their change behavior and attitudes. Such thing we should all expect of those who claim to have come to know Christ, and lacking such evidences should call into question whether such people are merely posers. The Gospel Series
  12. THE FEAR OF THE LORD Pr 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. Pr 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Pr 15:33 The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor. Jesus said, "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him." Luke 12:4,5 And Peter writes, "If you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear" 1Peter 1:17 Therefore let us evaluate our attitude towards God as to whether or not we truly fear the Lord. For one cannot mature in the Christian life without such an attitude. The Proverb Series
  13. The Parable of the Minas Luke 19:11-27 As they heard these things, he went on and told a parable, because he was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that the Kingdom of God would be revealed immediately. He said therefore, "A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. He called ten servants of his, and gave them ten mina coins, and told them, ‘Conduct business until I come.’ But his citizens hated him, and sent an envoy after him, saying, ‘We don’t want this man to reign over us.’ "It happened when he had come back again, having received the kingdom, that he commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by conducting business. The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten more minas.’ "He said to him, ‘Well done, you good servant! Because you were found faithful with very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ "The second came, saying, ‘Your mina, Lord, has made five minas.’ "So he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ Another came, saying, ‘Lord, behold, your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief,for I feared you, because you are an exacting man. You take up that which you didn’t lay down, and reap that which you didn’t sow.’ "He said to him, ‘Out of your own mouth will I judge you, you wicked servant! You knew that I am an exacting man, taking up that which I didn’t lay down, and reaping that which I didn’t sow. Then why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank, and at my coming, I might have earned interest on it?’ He said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina away from him, and give it to him who has the ten minas.’ "They said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ ‘For I tell you that to everyone who has, will more be given; but from him who doesn’t have, even that which he has will be taken away from him. But bring those enemies of mine who didn’t want me to reign over them here, and kill them before me.’" (web) Discussion Questions Who are the subjects and how do they differ from the servants? What kinds of things has God entrusted to us? And what does He expect us to increase? Why didn't the last servant invest the mina? And what was wrong with his attitude? (In what way does the master reap where he hasn't sown?) Comments This parable is just a variation on the The Parable of the Talents. The differences are as follows: Parable of the Talents Parable of the Minas The servants were given different amounts The man went on a non-specified journey The unprofitable servant was thrown out The servants were give equal amounts The man went to appoint himself king His subjects rejected him He had those subjects killed God is Fair The servants were rewarded judicially in accordance with the percentage they gained from what they were given. Of course in life it often seems unfair because people don't start with the same amounts of ability or opportunities and grew up in different environments subject to different challenges, but God takes that into account and thus is fair in handing our rewards. What is the reward? In this parable he speaks of handing out positions of authority in the kingdom of God. Some reckon this quite literally as positions of authority in the earthly Millenial Kingdom and some limit the reward simply to that 1000 year period alone. In any case it seems the reward is increased responsibilities, which is quite different than what some may expect. If you work hard and faithfully in God's ministry, then He will make you work even harder. But realize also that humans were created not to be served but to serve. We are servants of God and thus as we come to the revelation of what we were created to be, we will all the more embrace our responsibilities. Who are the subjects? The subjects are not the servants as we clearly see he speaks of the two differently. The servants are "Christians". They are those who association themselves with the Christian community. They are followers of Christ. They are within his household. The subjects are the rest of the world, starting with the unbelieving Jews. Though they reject Jesus as Lord they cannot stop him from being Lord and being subject to his judgement. What of the Wicked Servant? The parable of the talents reveal him as merely a nominal Christian. Antinomial Christians are quite common among Americans. Many "accept Christ" and reckon themselves born again, but are mistaken. For unless one accepts Christ as Lord with an application oriented faith revealed by doing what the Lord says, one cannot be saved. But the parable of the minas doesn't bring this out so explicitly. What it does bring out is that what the wicked servant had been given will be taken away and he will be left with nothing. And thus both parables exhort such lazy Christians to apply their faith and bring forth fruit or else they will be reprimanded. The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources
  14. Eternally Secure Can anything separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus? "I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Rom 8: 38,39 Notice a couple of things here. Paul indicates that one's security in Christ is not a function of time. For he says there's nothing in the present or the future which will separate us from Christ. So if a person is saved at one point in time, and you were to make a time machine and travel into the future to visit that person, Paul indicates that you would find that person would still be saved. Now there are those who would give the exception that we can separate ourselves. But this independence of time excludes that idea. And not only so, but note that he says, "nor anything else in all creation". Are you a part of the creation? If you are part of the creation then Paul is saying that you cannot separate yourselves from Christ. Furthermore, due to the nature of the regeneration, there will never be the desire to do so, let alone the ability or possibility to do so. Thus it is as Jesus said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life." John 5:24 The heaven/hell judgement is a thing of the past for those born of God. The Gospel Series
  15. The major theme of 1John is speaking to the subject of how to identify real believers. For example: "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother." 1John 3:9,10 That's how you know. And consider John uses the concept of the Perseverance of the Saints to make this statement concerning certain individuals. "They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us." 1John 2:19 That's also how you know. And "We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit." 1Jo 4:13 That's also how you know. 1Jo 5:13 "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life."
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