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Ephesians Series Lessons March 2, 2007

Posted by mjtilley in Bible Doctrines, church.
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I’ve been very slack in posting either the lessons or the notes from the lessons … and I sincerely apologize.  No good excuses to offer, unfortunately.  In any event, I’m using this post to bring you up to speed on where we are so far:

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The Beginning and Future of the Church February 13, 2007

Posted by mjtilley in church, Ephesians.
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I’m falling behind on posting notes from the lessons, but I at least would like to try to stay current with the recordings.  So, you can now download or stream the lesson on Ephesians 1:1-14 from this past Sunday.

Look for more notes soon.

An Outline of Ephesians February 10, 2007

Posted by mjtilley in church, Ephesians, The Bible.
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This is from lesson one of the Ephesians series.

  1. Chapter One.  Key Word/Theme: Predestination (1:5-6)
  2. Chapter Two.  Key Word/Theme: Reconcile (1:6-7)
  3. Chapter Three. Key Word/Theme: Mystery (1:9)
  4. Chapter Four. Key Word/Theme: Edification (1:8)
  5. Chapter Five. Key Word/Theme: Submitting (1:10)
  6. Chapter Six.  Key Word/Theme: Power (1:11)

An Introduction to Church Doctrine Study February 10, 2007

Posted by mjtilley in church, Jesus Christ.
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A couple of weeks ago, before we actually started our study of Ephesians, Matthew offered some thoughts on the church, based on Gamaliel’s discourse in Acts 5:34-40.  The observations made by the Pharisee (that’d be Gamaliel … not Matthew, at least as far as the passage is concerned) indicate several fundamental truths about the church.

  1. Anything can be called a “church.”  The word “church” is simply a label put on people who gather together.  The English word is translated from the Greek “eklesia” which means “a called out assembly.” In Acts 5, Gamaliel rightly notes that Theudas and Judas essentially lead “churches,” yet their followers were met with ruin.
  2. The true test of a church is its foundation.  To see what the apostles (particularly Peter, who is under scrutiny here) were depending on as their foundation, look at Acts 3 and Acts 5:29-32.  It’s obvious, their foundation was Christ; their message was Christ-centered!  In Matthew 16:13-20, Jesus notes that the foundation of the church was the fact that He was God, the Christ.  Therefore, Freedom Baptist Church will only be a true, real and useful church if it is the church of Jesus Christ.
  3. Only a true, God-founded church will succeed.  Gamaliel says, “if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it” (Acts 5:39).  And Jesus says in Matthew 16:18: “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”  No matter what I do (or don’t do) … no matter what the world and the devil tries: a church founded on Jesus will be triumphant!
  4. But that success comes from God alone.  In the Matthew 16 passage, before noting that the church will succeed, Jesus notes that He was the one who would build it.  Looking at I Corinthians 3:17, Paul — under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit — notes that for all our labors, it is God who gives the increase.
  5. Yet God has offered me the privilege of laboring with Him.  Notice I Corinthians 3:11-20.  Paul makes it clear that the perfect foundation is Jesus and that God is the one who causes success and growth.  However, Paul also uses the image of a building and a garden to show that we have the responsibility and opportunity to co-operate, to be a co-laborer with God.  What a privilege!

You can listen to or download the entire lesson from archives.org.

Psalm 51 and an upcoming series January 25, 2007

Posted by mjtilley in church.
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This past Sunday, Brian spoke to the class about Psalm 51.  In case you missed it, you can hear the recording online or download it

Please note, starting February 4, we start our series of study on the doctrine of the church.  We’ll be digging through the letters of Paul fairly systematically to get at this precious doctrine and we’ll start in Ephesians.  Please come prepared by reading through at least the first chapter a couple of times, if not the whole book.  Also, I hope you’ll plan to bring your questions so we can have good discussion about this doctrinally-packed book.

The Unity of the Holy Spirit October 15, 2006

Posted by mjtilley in Bible Doctrines, church, Holy Spirit.
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In the next-to-last chapter of the book I’m currently reading (Above All Earthly Pow’rs, Christ in a Postmodern World), the author helps make a point that I was trying to make today in my lesson on the Holy Spirit:

“The Church’s responsibility, therefore, is not to create unity, as the ecumenical movement proposed, but to preserve the unity that God himself has already created in Christ.  What militates against the unity is immaturity of doctrinal understanding (Ephesians 4:14) and immaturity in moral behavior (Ephesians 4:25-32).” (page 296)

Now, David Wells is making the point in the context of taking “seeker-sensitive” churches to task for polluting or ignoring the truth of the revealed Word (often they eschew words like ‘sin’ and ‘propitiation’ and ‘justification’ as being “too religious”).  But the point is valid even in context of our discussion on the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers and in the church as a corporate unit.   

Basically, as I was pointing out, the unity of the Spirit does not come at the expense of truth … in fact, His unity actually demands it.  Further, the unity of the Spirit — while definitely a group- and selfless-focused unity — is a unity that the Spirit creates, not me or any sort of policy or practice of the church. 

Instead of something to be strived for or compromised to attain, this unity is God’s work.  Said another way, this unity is an evidence (that is, result; not a cause) of the Holy Spirit.  Where His unity (this truthful, doctrinal, self-effacing unity) is present, you can rest assured that He is present.  And, if the Bible is to believed (and it is), He’s present in the life of every believer upon salvation. 

So the key question, and one for which I have no satisfactory answer, is “Why, then, don’t we experience more true, Holy-Ghost prompted unity in our churches?”  Could it be that we’re working so hard to manufacture it that we’re missing His leading?  Could it be that we think we’ve got a better solution?

I pray that we all will submit to the Spirit’s work in our individual lives and within the body of Christ so that we can enjoy and experience the precious promised unity of the Holy Spirit.    

Jesus, My Victorious Ruler October 6, 2006

Posted by mjtilley in Bible Doctrines, Jesus Christ.
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A recording of the 10/1/2006 lesson about Jesus’ role as our King: http://www.archive.org/download/Jesus1_2/Jesus2.WMA.

A Sympathetic Priest October 6, 2006

Posted by mjtilley in Bible Doctrines, Jesus Christ.
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A recording of the 9/24/2006 lesson about Jesus’ role as priest: http://www.archive.org/download/Jesus1_2/Jesus1.WMA.

The Best Prophet Ever September 17, 2006

Posted by mjtilley in Jesus Christ.
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“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of [his] glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” Hebrews 1:1-4

Today, Brian addressed the prophetic role of Jesus Christ.  In the lesson, Brian took extra effort to prove out that it’s no empty saying that Jesus was a prophet.  Instead, we found that Jesus meets and exceeds every qualification for a prophet.

Knowing that, the aforementioned passage in Hebrews (quickly becoming one of my favorite passages in the New Testament) has even more power.  Yes, Jesus came to earth fulfilled both the foretelling (telling of future events) and forthtelling (relaying direct messages from God) aspects of prophetic ministry.  But unlike the prophets of the Old Testament (even Moses, who was a “superior” prophet), Jesus was:

  1. God’s divine prophet.  At best, the Old Testament prophets were human intermediaries for men.  They would speak God’s mind, as He would deliver it, but they were always nothing more than human beings.  Jesus Christ was the only prophet that was more than a mere man; He was flesh, but He was God Himself.  Jesus provided a direct revelation of God as the second person of the Trinity.      
  2. God’s last prophet.  Jesus Christ was the final Word.  Once God spoke in the form of His Son, He had communicated in the most perfect and final form.  There was and is no way to communicate God’s mind any better than through someone who is the brightness God’s glory and the express image of God.
  3. God’s perfect prophet.  While God chose to deliver His message in many different ways throughout history, only Jesus was the perfect messenger.  Not only did Jesus accurate relay the information (the same is said of the prophets on the Old Testament), Jesus actually showed God’s message in His own life (to some extent, also true of Old Testament prophets) and provided to sacrifice necessary to give the message life.  Jesus didn’t just communicate God’s love toward us… He made our relatinship possible.

Jesus Christ seen in the Old Testament September 12, 2006

Posted by mjtilley in Bible Doctrines, Jesus Christ, salvation, The Old Testament.
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On Sunday, Brian continued with the lessons on the Doctrine of Jesus Christ.  What’s striking to me is how central this doctrine (and thereby, these 5 lessons) are to our faith, to our salvation, to the church.  That is not to say any one of the other lessons or doctrines aren’t important — try and take one away or tweak it a bit and you’ll find out just how important they are to everything — but it is to say that Christ is the central figure of it all.

That concept is very prominently seen in a study of the Old Testment, done in light of the revelation we have of Jesus in the New Testament — the topic of Brian’s lesson.

I think it is important to know that without Jesus actually coming and without the Holy Scriptures of the New Testament, Jesus in the Old Testament is not such an obvious thing.  Certainly passages like Isaiah 53 are teaching, foreshadowing the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world.  But now that we have the light shed by the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, we can plainly see that Jesus was who was being foretold.

Ultimately, what that means to me is this: Jesus dying on the cross, the mystery of the church, my salvation itself are all acts of God planned before the world was ever Created.  This was no “fall-back,” plan B … this was the God-honoring, Father-glorifying plan of redemption.  The seeds (some more obvious and others less, but all purposeful) of information about that plan show that God was never once taken by surprise, never struck his forehead with his palm in astonishment.  No — my God put the plan into action from the first act of the Bible and of time (Genesis 1:1).  And He continued implementing His plan according to His timing. 

I take away two assurances from that:

1) My God chose me!  Only because of His love and His grace, I can say that I am accepted by God, that I have a position of right-standing with God, that I am a friend of God.

2) My God will always make sure His plan is accomplished!  No matter what, with our without my consent … it will happen.  May I be always be willing to submit.