OT Faith

Romans 4.1-12

Paul uses Abraham as an illustration of his point that being justified…being declared righteous…being saved…has always been by faith. God does what we could never do…takes away our sin and gives us His righteousness.

This is no “cooking of the books”. God’s declaration of our righteousness isn’t some kind of shell game where He pretends not to see our sin. No wink, wink. He doesn’t redefine our sin so that it’s something else. No, the debt had to be paid in full. No way around it. And so in Jesus, God fully paid the debt that we owed…death. But even more than that He replaced it with His righteousness. That’s what’s credited to our account when we believe in Jesus.

So what should our response be? Praise and thanksgiving. A life of obedience that says “Thank You.” Our obedience doesn’t save us…our faith does. But obedience is the proper response of one who has been saved. Abraham’s faith journey is a great example for us. There were times when his faith was strong and times when it faltered. There were times when he trusted God and times when he relied more on himself. But the more time he spent with the LORD, the stronger his faith grew and the more he trusted God with his circumstances. And at the end of his life, it could be said of him, “Abraham obeyed Me…” May that be true of us as well.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Romans series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster

Justified by Faith

Romans 3.21-31

Finally some good news. Though we all are guilty and deserving of God’s wrath, we all can be saved from His wrath through faith in Jesus.

At the cross, God’s love and His justice collide. Because of His amazing grace and His abounding love, God does for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves…He provides the way that His wrath against sin can be satisfied without compromising His righteousness. He Himself in the Person of Jesus will take on the full measure of His wrath and pay the penalty that sin requires…death. Did I say it was because of His love? God is the Initiator. He the Pursuer. He the Father anxiously looking for His wayward sons and daughters.

So where are you? Still under His wrath or robed in His righteousness? All can be justified, but not all will be. Everyone who believes… but not everyone will believe. You have the opportunity today. Jesus has already done the heavy lifting. He’s already died in your place. And He arose the third day. He conquered both sin and death so that you can be forgiven your sins and have eternal life. If you will believe…what’s holding you back?

If you have trusted in Jesus, don’t take for granted the magnificent gift He’s given you in salvation. Spend some today thanking Him for what He’s done and worshiping Him for who He is.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Romans series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster

Law Breaker

Romans 2.17-29

The Jews, no doubt, had a privileged position. Theirs were the fathers. Theirs the promises. They were entrusted with the OT Scriptures. From them would come the Savior of all mankind…the Hero of Genesis 3.15. A position that should have caused them to be grateful and graciously humble, sharing the knowledge of the riches of God’s grace with the world. Instead, for many it became a cause of pride and self-righteousness.

Paul isn’t picking on his people anymore than he was picking on the rest of mankind in chapter one. Yet he is picking on his people just like he did the rest of mankind in chapter one. His point is that we are all guilty. Both Jews and Greeks. None of us lives up to the standard that we have…natural revelation or special revelation, in creation or the Scriptures, we all fail miserably at following God on our own. We face plant every time. There is none righteous, no not one. We are not all as bad as we could be, but we are all as bad off as we can be…without Jesus.

So…since we couldn’t follow God on our own and since our failure left us under His wrath, God provided a way to both escape His wrath and follow Him through Jesus. Because Jesus did fulfill the Law perfectly and He followed God flawlessly, yet He willingly died sacrificially to pay the penalty for our sin and satisfy God’s wrath. And now we have His righteousness credited to our account. The benefits of the New Covenant…forgiveness of sins, a new heart and God’s Spirit living within us…we are His people and He is our God.

If you have not yet trusted in Jesus, make today the day. Don’t wait.

If you have trusted in Jesus, are you living like it? Is your life helping folks come to Jesus or hindering them? Would they be surprised to find out you’re a Christian, or would it just make sense based on the way you conduct yourself and the way you treat others? We are not called to be perfect, but we are called to live a different kind of life…a worthy-of-the-calling kind of life.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Romans series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster

The Wrath of God Revealed Part 2

Romans 1.24-27

God gave them over…frightening words, but words that describe the world we live in today. Society has fallen for the rouse of The Emperor’s New Clothes…exchanging the truth of God for a lie. We wanted to decide truth for ourselves apart from God, we wanted to be the determiners of good and evil, right and wrong, we wanted to be our own gods…and so we have a world that conforms to our image.

We all have a sin bent. We are all sinful, but we also have particular sins that we are prone to. For some it’s lust. For some it’s pride. Or anger. Or lying. Or stealing. Or coveting. You get the picture. We all have a sin bent…an inclination toward some form of rebellion against God. The goal is not to pursue that bent, but to turn it over to God so that He may transform that sinful inclination into a desire to please and pursue Him.

These are not easy topics to talk about. Definitely not popular and may even get me in trouble. But they are things we need to talk about because the Bible talks about them. Here’s the bottom line…we all need a Savior, and the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. For God so loved the world… No one is so lost they can’t be found. No one is so dead that they can’t be made alive again.

Jesus ate with tax-collectors and sinners. There is no doubt He loved them. So should we because…newsflash…we are one of them. But loving the sinner doesn’t mean leaving them in their sin. That’s why sharing the Truth is so important. It’s also why we share our story. It’s one beggar telling another beggar where they can find bread.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Romans series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

The Wrath of God Revealed Part 1

Romans 1.18-23

The wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men… Sin has consequences. And the consequences? The wages? Death. The first and most basic sin…the suppression of the truth of God. To deny His existence even while creation itself gives evidence of its Creator.

But since the garden we have been suppressing that truth. And our hearts have been idol-making factories ever since. And so we’ve either written God totally out of the script (atheist) or we’ve given His glory to His creatures (polytheist). In either case we’ve elevated our own understanding above the truth that God has revealed both in His world and in His Word. We are without excuse.

I said it earlier, but I think it’s important to keep coming back to it. Apart from Jesus, we are all under God’s wrath (John 3.36). But we don’t have to stay there. Because of God’s amazing grace and His astounding love He has provided a way for us to escape His wrath…through His Son. Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross satisfied God’s wrath. It paid the penalty for sin. That’s the gospel. The power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. Jesus died so that we might live. His death allowed for forgiveness of sins. His resurrection provides new life. For everyone who believes… If you haven’t yet trusted in Jesus, why not make today the day?

If you have trusted in Jesus, be careful. Our culture is saturated with the lies of the enemy, suppressing the truth at every turn. It’s easy to allow it to infect and influence your worldview…to draw you away from Jesus. Don’t let it. Commit to living by the Truth (capital “T”), which is found in God’s Word, the Bible.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Romans series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

Essentials: Salvation

Ephesians 2.1-10

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. A dead man can’t do anything to save himself…he’s dead! He must be made alive again.

The bad news…if you have not yet trusted in Jesus, you are dead. Your sin has killed you. And if something doesn’t change, nothing will change. You will remain dead. Separated from God forever. Not a very pretty picture. In fact it’s a very grim picture. An unsettling picture. But an accurate picture. The bad news is you’re as bad off as you can possibly be.

The good news…Jesus came to change all of that. He came to give you life. He has already taken care of the sin problem so that through faith in Him, you can be saved by His magnificent grace. Salvation that not only impacts your eternal destiny, but also transforms your present reality. Jesus said in Matthew 5, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” We are saved to bring glory to the One who saved us…to highlight His goodness and His grace and His mercy and His love. So why not trust Jesus today?

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This post is based on our January Series, Essentials. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

The Thrill of Hope

Genesis 3.1-19

God created a perfect world. All that God had made was good, including the man and his wife. It’s paradise…heaven on earth. What happened? It’s hard to describe the catastrophic results of one single disobedient decision. Welcome to life as we know it. Every act of violence, every natural disaster, every awful thing that has happened since is a direct result.

What was the sin of the garden? It was rebellion. It was pride in its purest form. The Image-bearers were not satisfied with merely bearing the Image…they wanted to be the Image. Instead of trusting their loving Creator who had so “fearfully and wonderfully” made them, who had entrusted them with representing Him to His creation, who had made them king and queen over planet earth, they rejected Him and spurned His love. They sought to oust Him and take His place. They wanted a shot at the title.

But lest we too quickly fault our first parents, we see that same act of rebellion repeated legion in our own lives. If man and woman in a perfect environment fail to follow God on their own, what hope do we have? Our only hope is Jesus.

The thrill of hope is…God’s not done yet. The thrill of hope is…God’s pursuit of His wayward children. The thrill of hope is…forgiveness of sin and eternal life. The thrill of hope is…the LORD God… a restored relationship with our Creator, sons and daughters of the high King.

That’s why I love Genesis 3.15…what we couldn’t do for ourselves, God will do, when He sends His Son, Jesus, as the Head-Crushing Seed of the Woman, whose dying words, will be, “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do!” The Thrill of Hope is…Genesis 3.15.

Those of us who have trusted in Jesus…aka the seed of the woman…are at war with the seed of the serpent, not by choice but because of the hatred and hostility they have toward us. Guess what side the culture is on? Adam gave up not only his innocence in the fall, but also his right to rule. He gave that to the serpent…“the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.”  So those who follow God suffer not only the consequences of theirs and others bad choices and the effects of a fallen world, but also the attacks of the enemy. And yet hope is possible because the Head-Crushing Seed of the Woman has come…Jesus has come…and He has defeated the Adversary. And now we wait with all of creation for the time when Jesus will come back, not as the Suffering Lamb, but as the Roaring Lion…not as a Baby in a manger, but as the Conquering King. He will come back to set all things right…

May you experience the thrill of hope this Christmas season and the amazing love of God who didn’t give up on us even in our rebellion, but who has pursued us and did what we could not do, provide the way back to Himself through Jesus, the Head-Crushing Seed of the Woman.

Join us next week as we continue our Advent story with…The Weary World Rejoices.

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This post is based on our Advent Series, The Thrill of Hope. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

The Fate of Ananias and Sapphira

Acts 5.1-16

Ananias and Sapphira learn quickly the deadly consequences of lying to the Holy Spirit. Sin is dealt with swiftly and decisively. 

God takes sin seriously and so should we. And while we may not see the consequences of our choices quite so quickly, they do not go unnoticed. That’s why Paul says in Ephesians 5.15-17, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

We are to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord…doesn’t mean that we are perfect or will do it perfectly. But it means that we are learning more and more what it is to walk by the Spirit, to put off the old self and put on the new…to live and love like Jesus.

Character…integrity…matters. There is no such thing as a small fib…a little white lie…a half truth. Who we are on the outside should match who we are on the inside. Our walk should match our talk. If we claim to follow Jesus, then our lives should reflect that. When they don’t, it’s obvious to those around us. It’s called hypocrisy. And the only person we are fooling is ourselves…the truth always comes out. Who we are matters.

That’s why it is so important for us to be intentional about pursuing our relationship with Jesus. Left to ourselves, we will never live and love like Him. But when we intentionally pursue our relationship with Him…when we spend time in His Word, time in prayer and time with other believers…then the Spirit slowly but surely begins to transform us into the image of the Son. Little by little, moment by moment, day by day. As we spend more time with Him, we learn to recognize His voice. We begin to notice Him directing our steps. And as we say “yes” to His direction, we become more like Him. But we have to be intentional. It won’t just happen.

One more thing… The mark of a maturing Christian is the realization that our greatest regret when we blow it is disappointing our Father in heaven. Not the regret of being embarrassed or even the harm to others, as bad as that may be, but the deep regret of disappointing the One we love the most…the One who loves us more than any other. After David’s epic failure in the Bathsheba-Uriah affair (2 Samuel 11), he cries out to God in Psalm 51.4 saying, “Against You, You only, I have sinned And done what is evil in Your sight, So that You are justified when You speak And blameless when You judge.”

As parents we need to teach our kids that they should choose to do the right thing, not because doing the wrong thing leads to physical consequences and not even because the Bible identifies it as the wrong choice, but because when we love someone, we want to serve them and do what pleases them…living right out of love for the Father as opposed to just living right because the Bible says it is the right thing to do.

God takes sin seriously…that’s why Jesus had to die on a cross…to pay the penalty for our sin. That’s what we celebrate in communion. Jesus died so that we might live. So choose life. I want to give you a few minutes to talk to the Lord. What do you need to confess? What do you need to celebrate? What do you need to commit to?

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on a sermon from our Acts series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

The Fig Tree

Luke 13.1-9

The message for us is pretty simple…life is fragile and unpredictable, and so we need to repent so that we are not caught off guard and perish. God is patient, but judgment is coming…it will not wait forever. Now we are in a time of pure grace and divine forbearance. Paul in Romans 2.4 says, “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” Peter tells us, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief…” (2 Peter 3.9-10)

We live in a broken world plagued by sin and death. Because of sin, death is the common denominator of us all. No one escapes. Death is one for one. All will die, but not all truly live…only those who have trusted in Jesus to rescue them, to forgive them of their sins, and have chosen to follow Him will experience life.

Those of us who have trusted in Jesus should be obvious…the fruit of repentance should be evident in our lives. I want to ask you to reflect for a few moments…I want you to take a spiritual inventory and ask yourself the question…what evidence do I see in my life that I’ve trusted in Jesus? Do you see the fruits of the Spirit increasing in your life…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control? Do you have a greater desire for God and the things of God? Do you enjoy being around His people?

If the answer is “yes”, spend the next several moments thanking Jesus for rescuing you. If the answer is “no”, don’t wait. Your parents or your spouse may be believers…but there are no +1’s in the kingdom and God doesn’t have grandchildren. You may have said a prayer at some point, but when you trust in Jesus, you are not who you used to be…a fundamental change has happened at the core of who you are. If nothing has changed for you, then something’s wrong…maybe you haven’t trusted in Jesus. Maybe there is something else that’s keeping you from growing. Either way, ask God to rescue you.

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on a sermon from our latest mini-series in the book of Luke, Life, Death and the Pursuit of Jesus. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

The Divine Invitation

Luke 5.1-11

Simon is initially willing to obey Jesus out of a sense of obligation…he had seen what Jesus had done for others, he knew that God was at work in Him, but until now, he really hadn’t had an encounter with Jesus. But when he does, he responds in awe, humility, and then total surrender…he’s all in. He went from being a fan to a being a part of Jesus’ team, a part of Jesus’ rescue mission…saving folks from death to life. Jesus changed everything for him. Jesus ruined Simon, so that He could remake him.

Jesus is still in the business of turning sinners into servants. Have you been wrecked by Jesus? Have you recognized your sinfulness in the presence of His righteousness? Has is undone you and cause you to fall down before Him? Have you been rescued by Him? If so, what impact has that had on your life? Have you left all to follow Him? Are you following Jesus because you’ve experienced His grace at such a profound level that there really is no other option for you, or are you following Him begrudgingly, more out of a sense of obligation or duty, than joy? It starts with that personal encounter with Jesus…realizing His grace that invades and impacts your world…that ruins you and remakes you.

If you have been rescued, have you joined Jesus’ rescue mission? Have you become a fisher of men? Are you spending time daily with Him, so that you can recognize His voice? Take a look at your impact list…who can you help bring one step closer to Jesus. Ask God for a divine appointment this week. Be intentional. Have a conversation. Invite folks to come to church with you and whatever group you are a part of (Community group, young adults, students, MOPs, women’s Bible study, a men’s group, Saints Alive, STOP, etc). While God gives us various jobs…student, teacher, business person, etc, our main task whatever our job is catching folks for the kingdom. We are all called to the same mission…we are all a part of the same team.

But maybe you haven’t had a personal encounter with Jesus yet. Maybe you are still a part of the crowd considering who Jesus is. He wants to rescue you today. He wants you to be on His team. The great news about Jesus…the invitation is open to all, but we do have to accept it. And when we do, we are off on the greatest adventure of our lives.

Are you going to be a fisherman or a fisher of men?

Until next time, stay salty…

“May we be fishers of people who have given up all to follow Jesus.”

This post is based on a sermon from our Luke series, Live & Love Like Jesus: The Great Galilean Ministry. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster