Not every Christian is called to adopt, but every Christian is mandated to care for orphans (James 1:27). A Child’s Hope Int’l states, “There are approximately 500,000 children in foster care in the United States. It’s estimated that 120,000 are eligible for adoption. With over 400,000 churches in the United States, if one person in every 3rd church would say ‘I’ll take one’ all of the children would have a home.” The church can meet the need.
Now consider this: I heard someone say once that the Church is not ready for Roe v. Wade to be overturned as many would desire. If the children who would have been aborted are not, but are given up for adoption instead, who will raise them? Is the Church ready to meet the need?
Think of the gospel impact the Church could have through adoption. To some degree, adoption is a picture of what Jesus did for us: reaching into a hopeless situation to bring hope and joy and fulfillment of life. Most churches could start by providing foster and adoptive families to their county children’s services. A need always exists there.
If you study soteriology (the study of salvation), you will know that adoption is an incredible part of our salvation. Christians are adopted into the family of God (Galatians 3:23 – 4:7; Romans 8:15-17), and we ought to be grateful! Millard Erickson defines adoption (spiritually) as the “transfer from a status of alienation and hostility to one of acceptance and favor.”
Now think about this: God created physical life and God gives spiritual life (through Jesus Christ, including the process of spiritual adoption). The Bible only advocates two ways of parents raising children: 1) through the physical process of a husband and wife bringing a child into the world, and 2) through adoption or orphan care (James 1:27). Therefore, raising and caring for children mirrors the work that God has already done.
Adoption illustrates and explains the love of Jesus. Is the church ready to meet the need?
How is your church meeting the foster and/or adoption need in your community?
 Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rd Edition (Baker Academic: Grand Rapids, MI, 2013), 891.
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Maybe one of the most asked questions by Christians is: how do I know I am saved?
We all want a good guarantee with important parts of our lives.
• You want insurance on your home to guarantee the replacement of your belongings.
• You buy that extra protection on that electronic device or appliance so you are guaranteed that it will be fixed or replaced.
• You make sure there is a good warranty on that vehicle so you are guaranteed that it will run like its supposed to.
• You want your bank to be insured so your money is guaranteed to be there.
In very simplistic terms, then, how do you know that your salvation will have its effect on your life? How do I know I am saved?
One area of Scripture that answers this question (not the only one) is 1 John 4:13-15, so we will look deeper into this passage.
Verse 13 says ”By this…” John uses this phrase to introduce a concept he really wants to make sure his listeners grasp. In fact, it appears 11 times in this letter.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us. So, what is this? The guarantee of the Holy Spirit. I hope you will be encouraged and gain confidence through this post. this message.
I want to point out a natural movement we see in the text, which consists of three parts. Let’s start at verse 14 first. We see apostolic authority here– John was one of many who saw and testifies about Jesus. So, understand here that it’s not just someone talking without experience. You can trust what you’re reading because it is written by someone who is speaking out of what he has seen.
1st Part of the Movement: v.14
The movements follow a pattern: this happened, then this happened. The first movement: He saw and testified that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, ESV)
Apart from Jesus Christ, you are perishing and will perish eternally under the wrath of God. But God has made redemption possible for you. The Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.
2nd Part of the Movement: beginning of v.15
That happened. Then this: whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus came to this world and finished the work that is necessary for you to be redeemed. But Romans 10:9 tells us, “…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
The second part of the movement is that you have to confess Jesus. It’s not enough just to know that Jesus came into the world. Many people are smart enough to know that Jesus was a real man on the earth, but there must be a belief behind this confession, like Romans 10:9 says.
So, the 1st part is that the Father sent his Son into the world. That happened.
Then, what is to happen is that every person has to decide to confess Jesus Christ. To believe in their heart that God raised him from the dead and that he has paid the penalty for sin and brings victory in this life.
That happens. Then, the 3rd movement.
3rd Part of the Movement: end of v.15
When you confess your belief in Christ, you will be saved. So this happens: God abides in you and you abide in God. Theologically this is called our union with Christ. Wayne Grudem summarizes it: “We are in Christ, Christ is in us, we are like Christ, and we are with Christ” (Systematic Theology, p. 1256).
Millard Erickson gives 4 implications of our union with Christ (Christian Theology, 3rd Edition, p. 882-883):
• We are counted righteous.
• We now live in Christ’ strength.
• We will suffer.
• We have the prospect of reigning with Christ.
Now, even with these three events being true in your life, some might wonder, how do I know this has all happened?
This is where the guarantee of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance.
Let me ask:
• Do you feel the conviction of sin?
• Are you conforming to the image of Christ?
• Are you learning and discovering biblical truth?
• Are you finding liberty/freedom over sinful thoughts, words, actions?
• Are you experiencing the guidance of the Holy Spirit, often evidenced by peace you will feel?
• Are you telling others about Jesus, being his witness?
• Are you loving others?
This is the work of the Holy Spirit in you. That is evidence of the salvation inside of you.
Look at the similarities to what Paul wrote:
13In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13–14 (ESV)
Specifically, the Holy Spirit seals the believer and guarantees the believer’s inheritance.
“Seal” generally means to put a mark upon something as a sign of its authenticity. Believers are sealed. And the Holy Spirit is the “guarantee” of the inheritance we have in Christ. The Holy Spirit is valuable enough to give the believer a sense of security by which to live faithfully until that great inheritance comes.
The Holy Spirit doesn’t come and go. You are sealed, which is the link to the secure eternity we have in Christ (inheritance). This should give you confidence.
photo courtesy of Xavier Mouton PhotographiePost Views: 883
You’ve probably heard the account of Jesus feeding of the 5,000–all these people getting hungry, no food, doubting disciples, and Jesus miraculously multiplying the five loaves and two fish to not just feed everyone but have much left over as well (Matthew 14:13-21).
Notice that the phrase “desolate place” occurs twice (verses 13 & 15) in this passage. That’s part of the setting. A desolate place and hungry people.
Now fast forward to Matthew 15:32-39 where the feeding of the 4,000 is recorded. This situation is similar but different from the feeding of the 5,000 (Jesus acknowledges both in Matthew 16:9-10). The similarity is that people are gathered to hear Jesus teach and they are hungry (16:32). Jesus told his disciples that he had compassion for those hungry people and desired to feed them.
But look at what the disciples ask Jesus right after he says that: “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?”
Wait-WHAT??!!! Did they already forget what happened possibly within just a week prior?
- The desolate place.
- Enough food.
- So great a crowd.
ALL of that was true for the feeding of the 5,000. Two desolate places. Enough? There was more than enough–12 leftover baskets in fact (14:20). So great a crowd? They just saw a great crowd miraculously fed.
Somehow, all of a sudden, the circumstances blinded the disciples from God’s faithfulness and the power of Christ.
Does this happen in your life? You have seen God provide and have seen his grace over and over. But for some reason, when that difficult situation confronts you, you somehow go blind to His faithfulness.
Find great comfort in 2 Timothy 2:13: “if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.” The context of that passage contrasts denying Christ with being faithless. The ESV Study Bible footnote says that being faithless is a temporary lapse in trusting Christ, for which there is still hope because Christ is faithful to pardon, restore, and keep those who are truly his.
Even when we find ourselves like the disciples having a temporary lapse in trusting Christ, there is still grace and forgiveness. Right after the disciples ask Jesus how they could feed so many people, Jesus doesn’t just slap them across the face and say don’t you remember last week??!!
No, our gracious Savior lovingly said, “How many loaves do you have?” Grace on display! The Lord could look into your circumstances and calmly ask you to tell him all about it, then trust Him, and rely on His grace for every situation.Post Views: 1,345
When the cat is away, the mice will play. This cliche is seen in the last chapters of Judges, and we tend to live according to it when we do not think there is an authority in our lives.
A great example of this is at the end of the book of Judges (ch.17-21). It begins with Micah and his mother in “The hill country of Ephraim”—not a new location in Judges:
- It is the place of Joshua’s burial (2:9);
- Ehud sounded his trumpet there (3:27);
- Deborah held court there (4:5); and
- Gideon sent messengers there to call up the men of Ephraim to go against the Midianites (7:24).
Look how different it is by the end of Judges though! The phrase “there was no king in Israel” occurs three times in chapters 17-21 (17:6; 18:1; 21:25). When there is no king, people will do what is right in their own eyes. In other words, they will become their own kings or submit themselves to all kinds of other kings.
We see a natural desire for worship in Micah and his mother, and we share this natural desire.
The short story—Micah had stolen 1,100 pieces of silver from his mother but returned it to her. Her response: “. . . I dedicate the silver to the LORD from my hand for my son, to make a carved image and a metal image. . .” (Judges 17:3, ESV)
Do you see anything in her response that doesn’t make sense? This shows how far off the Israelites had come in their thinking and beliefs–Micah’s mother would dedicate the silver to the Lord IN ORDER FOR it to be made into a carved image and a metal image. The 2nd commandment directly forbids this: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” (Exodus 20:4, ESV)
But Micah wasn’t done there:
- v.5- he sets up a shrine, which is essentially is “the house of God.” This is an abomination because there was only one house of God at that time and it was in Shiloh, which is even noted in Judges 18:31.
- v.5- he sets up his son as a private priest. First, priests are to be public, not just for one person. Second, is his son even qualified?
- v.7-13. Maybe Micah did realize the qualification part of this, even though he didn’t care, because he finds a Levite and asks him to be his priest.
Levites were the priestly class of Israelites, so Micah got that right. But God was not Micah’s authority, and his confusion is revealed in Judges 17:13: “Then Micah said, ‘Now I know that the LORD will prosper me, because I have a Levite as priest.’”
Not only did Micah’s mother dedicate the silver to the Lord to be used to make idols, but Micah presumed upon God’s blessing of his ungodly decision to create a place of worship outside of Shiloh with carved images and idols.
They naturally desired a god: something to rule over them, look up to, and try to please. People today share the same natural desire to worship by setting up their own places of worship and idols (whether physically or mentally).
Why would people do this? Let me offer two reasons:
- All people are made in the image of God (Gen 1:27), meaning at least that people have a soul and are able to have a personal relationship with God. In other words, every person is created to glorify and worship God, and when they don’t worship God, that longing to worship is still there. Instead of worshipping who they were created to worship, though, people will create all kinds of idols and other pursuits to fill that void that can only be satisfied in God.
- The law of God is written on people’s hearts. “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them” (Romans 2:14–15, ESV). Because people are made in the image of God, we naturally have the law of God written on our hearts. There is a general sense of right from wrong in every person, though sin can so horribly cauterize the ability to discern the difference. As John Piper said, people “. . . have enough knowledge of the moral law of God in their hearts by virtue of being created in God’s image so that their consciences are conflicted: sometimes approving, sometimes disapproving.” So, people are naturally pursuing morality, and that will lead to some kind of religion in their life.
Are you naturally desiring the One True God, or is your natural desire to worship misdirected?Post Views: 694