PastorsCorner

Called from Something…Called to Something

Gen. 11:27-32 – 12:1-8

31 Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went out together from Ur of the Chaldeans in order to enter the land of Canaan; and they went as far as Haran, and settled there (Gen. 11:31).

The extensive journey Terah and his family traveled stretched some 700 miles distance from the beginning to their final destination. They traveled beside the Euphrates River, for water was a great necessity for themselves and their livestock, and the only other route was through the desert wilderness of Arabia which would never have worked. They then ventured down through Syria into the Promised Land. Haran was located on the border of what we today know as Turkey and Syria.

Even though Terah is listed as the father of the patriarch, God’s call came to his son, Abram, all the way back in the Ur of the Chaldees, a city in Mesopotamia and the birthplace of Abram. We learn this from Stephen in the Book of Acts:

2 And he said, “Hear me, brethren and fathers! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, 3 and said to him, ‘Leave your country and your relatives, and come into the land that I will show you (Acts 7:2, 3).’  

The first thing we can therefore see as important is that Abram was called from something, and as we identify these things I will draw some relevance in correlation to our spiritual lives today. We are, as believers, called. That call is very unique because our citizenship is in heaven, and our conduct or the way that we operate is to be based on our relationship to the gospel and personal relationship to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ:

 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; (Phil. 3:20). 

Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; (Phil. 1:27).

We live a life, as strangers and exiles, that is in pursuit of something that is not of or on this earth. We are seeking a city, and we are not to be  mindful of where we have come from once we are called:

13 All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15 And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them (Heb. 11:13-16).

Called from Something…Called to Something

Sermon:
https://www.lgministries.org/sermons/called-from-something-called-to-something/
Bible Passages Courtesy of BibleGateway:
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Gen.+11%3A27-32%3B+12%3A1-8%3B+Gen.+11%3A31%3B+Acts+7%3A2-3%3B+Phil.+3%3A20%3B+Phil.+1%3A27%3B+Heb.+11%3A13-16&version=NASB
 


What’s So Special About The Life Of A Church (P. 1)

1 Corinthians 12:12–14:

12 For even as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized (immersed) into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many.

Romans 12:1–5:

1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, because of the expressed mercies of God, which is your rational (reasonable) service of worship. 2 And do not be outwardly conformed by this cultural age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. 3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to be thinking more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to be thinking so as to have an objective view of the source of your abilities, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. 4 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.

? The “conditio sine qua non” of our life
? The new relationship
? The means of my identification
? The effect on my thinking
? Of one another
 
The term used for ‘church’ (???????? (ekkl?sia) in the Bible simply means ‘gathering’. It can be used for a secular gathering or even a riot (Acts 19). It is not necessarily used primarily for gathering to worship God. The context decides the meaning of the gathering. Community is something you can have in your neighborhood but body life is something you can only have in the church. You may gather for any other reason but there is one thing that separates believers that gather together from anyone else.
 
The ‘conditio-sine-qua-non’ is a Latin legal term meaning ‘the condition without which it could not be.’ There is one thing here you cannot have anywhere else and it is created by a particular condition. It is something that is present that is not in attendance anywhere else in the world. What we do know is that when a body of believers gather together the Spirit of God is present and that is what makes it unique from every other type of gathering. There is a spirit out there in the world but it is not the spirit of God. People gather together for many reasons and are thrilled to be a part but that is not the Spirit of God. Only in the church do you find the Spirit of God adhering the assembly into a body.
 
Sometimes in our ministry we meet believers with various issues and the church they attend is not necessarily a body. It is a get together. It may be a good, comfortable place where their children are getting a good education but it has not transitioned to body life for them. It may not be the church. The fault may very well lie with the individual. What often happens in those settings is when they go through trials in their life they find themselves without the safety net that is so much a part of the body of Christ.
 
The Holy Spirit immerses us into something, For by one Spirit we were all baptized (immersed) into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13). You may say that this is an immersion into the universal body of Christ and I do not deny that. But let me just say that everything in Christ we experience on a larger scale God also wants us to experience on a smaller scale. He calls us His bride and He is the Head of the body but then He places in relationships where we begin to experience, on a much more personal and practical level, what this means for us and then we can begin to see and understand the analogy. So, for each one of us, the Holy Spirit is the one who gathers us and knits our hearts together:

… that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself (Col. 2:2).

Bible Passages Courtesy of BibleGateway:
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/…

Sermon: “What’s So Special About The Life Of A Church”
Jan 13, 2013 | by Tom Powell
https://www.lgministries.org/…/whats-so-special-about-the-l…/

Greek Word Studies Courtsey of Study Bible:
http://studybible.info/strongs/G1577



“God, The Heart-Knower” (Pt. 9)

I think that the cross of Jesus Christ is so powerful and effective that it moves ‘me’ right out of the equation. Do you believe that? Paul said it is no longer I but Christ who lives in me. If that is the case then the cross of Jesus Christ should be so influential that it turns our life upside down, dramatically impacting us to the point of transforming our thoughts and views of all people everywhere and the whole world in which we now live. When we change this for ourselves and others by adding to or taking away from we are tempting God. That is not where we want to be.

Paul, Barnabas, and Peter were therefore lovingly protecting those believers who were teaching salvation through circumcision from a thought process that could have been detrimental to their relationship with God, even though they believed in the Lord with all their heart, and from misleading other believers into a belief system that went contrary to God’s royal law of love (Acts 15:1-35). The love of Christ compels us and moves us in a direction that harmonizes perfectly with the will and purpose of God, provided we can get ourselves out of the way and allow the Holy Spirit to do His work (2 Cor. 5:14). Not only did the Jerusalem Council agree with Peter and Paul but, most importantly, they were in agreement with the Holy Spirit who was ever present and presiding over them:

It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements (Acts 15:28).

Peter corrected those people, including leaders and elders, who were struggling with the Law of Moses at the council by making clear what believers of every culture, including the Jews, should hold true to in their hearts. He said, We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are (Acts 15:11).  Think about that! How did you get saved? Were we just such nice people that we deserved it? Was it just easy for us? Have we made salvation a case of just hanging with people who are like us and, obviously, we are the saved? Or was it by the undeserved grace of God?
 

There is nobody good. God has not meted out what I truly deserve, and if I did not do it I thought it. I do not even know the ending result or ramifications of the decisions I have acted out. I do not know how many people I have hurt. I will not know that maybe until eternity rolls around. But God loved me when there was no reason to love me, and it was by the grace of God that I am saved. Peter’s address made people think because it was a serious issue attributed to the nature of God. If there is any part of you who thinks you deserved it and you have never been challenged, know that you have not escaped. Your challenge is coming because we will all bend our knees to Him and exclaim, “It is by your grace, Dear God, that we are saved!”

We would not have been pulled out of this destitute world and brought to a place of mercy if God did not grant us the opportunity to comprehend His love for us by giving us His Son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16; Rom. 6:23). It is by the grace of Jesus we believe to our salvation. It was faith. It was faith for Jews and it was faith for the Gentiles. When we start building little walls and saying, “It is faith… but,” believe me, we get into big trouble. We begin in faith and we end in faith (Rom. 5:1; Col. 2:6, 7). That same belief system God gave to us we now take and give to someone else because it is a free gift, and once the person of Jesus Christ comes into their life salvation through grace dramatically changes their whole being because God the heart-knower has not only loved us but has finished it all for us:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God (Eph. 2:1-8).

Bible Passages Courtesy of BibleGateway:
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/…

Sermon: “God, The Heart-Knower”
Nov 10, 2013 | by Tom Powell
https://www.lgministries.org/sermons/god-the-heart-knower/



“God, The Heart-Knower” (Pt. 8)

We belong to a God that wants us to express our faith in Him without wavering, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind (James 4:6). Our goal is to trust our eternal Lord completely and believe in the One who lives His own life in accordance with every single thing He tells me I should do, Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding (Prov. 3:5). The things we cannot do, like living perfectly within the boundaries of the Mosaic Law, He has done for us to provide us a way to salvation by faith. We want to set aside what we were and live in who He is. Our reasonable service is to set ourselves aside and believe in what He has done for us through His ransom sacrifice (Rom. 12:1, 2).

The Apostle Peter knew God wanted all men everywhere to come as they are and God would pour out His Holy Spirit upon them, just as He had done on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4; Acts 15:7-11). I, personally, do not know if I could have lived under a belief system where I had to be or do something to get there. But now you believe and the love of God is poured into your heart, creating in you the capacity to be something you never thought you could be. Anybody that has lived under that other system understands what Peter meant when he said that neither their fathers before them nor they themselves could bear the yoke of the Law (Acts 15:10, 11). They simply did not have the strength.
 

Any belief system that separates a person from true faith in Jesus Christ is being the means by which we live. I am not talking here about a false belief system. If the love of Christ is in us we will care about people, their stories, and their life. I get so frustrated at times with all this ethereal stuff that goes on, it is all about me, how I feel, and what I think. How about this, can I love another person who is typically unlovable to me? Can I care for somebody I should not care for? Can I believe for someone whose story I would never have cared to hear in the past, instead of putting them in the you-get-what-you-deserve group I created prior to Christ in me? Can I identify with them and be what Jesus Christ was for me? If I cannot do these things my Christianity is very shallow and I might need to reevaluate.

Circumcision was out. Salvation by grace was in. Peter said that by trying to put that yoke back on Christ’s disciples was tempting God, putting Him to the test, Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear (Acts 15:10)? You might be wondering how this relates to you since this was happening in the early church. I think that the cross of Jesus Christ is so powerful and persuasive that it moves ‘me’ right out of the equation. Do you believe that?
Paul said it is no longer I but Christ who lives in me. If that is the case then the cross of Jesus Christ should be so powerful that it turns our life upside down and dramatically impacts to the point of changing our thinking and view of all people and the whole world in which we now live:

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly (Gal. 2:20, 21).”

Bible Passages Courtesy of BibleGateway:
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/…

Sermon: “God, The Heart-Knower”
Nov 10, 2013 | by Tom Powell


“God, The Heart-Knower” (Pt. 7)

God searches us out. Truth and the Holy Spirit search us out. He shows us where we are in our heart and displays these things so that we can know ourselves and transform, and He challenges us with this in various ways in the corporate setting of the church:

“I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve (Jer. 17:10).”

 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God (Rom. 8:26, 27).

God knew that many of the Jewish believers would have to endure an overwhelming struggle within themselves regarding the new royal law of love, salvation through grace, replacing the Law of Moses. He knew what was important. The Apostle Peter had struggled with this and therefore learned a very important truth by God to adjust his heart. He was an eyewitness, and related it to the council at Jerusalem, that God had made no distinction between ‘us’ and ‘them’.

8And God, who know the heart, confirmed this, by giving the Holy Spirit to them just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction (???????? (diakrin? – distinguish) between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith (Acts 15:8, 9).

This is very important for us to understand because the word he used means to look at two different things and try to decide which one is really true. We compare and make a judgment between two things all the time. This word is used throughout the New Testament strictly from the viewpoint of choosing between two things. Abraham had to distinguish but did not waver:

20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised (Rom: 4:20, 21).

He was 100 years old and Sarah was barren and they had no offspring, yet he weighed the covenantal promise God had made to him on the scales of his heart and he believed and trusted God and received the blessing.
 
Throughout our lives we are constantly looking at two things, and our goal is to trust in the faithfulness of our Lord. Wavering can condemn us (James 1:2-16; Heb. 10:23). I want to trust Him to love people as He says I should and believe in people as He says I should. I want to trust that when He says His cross has provided certain attributes for me that they are true, real, and valuable. I want to be able to set aside what I was and live in who He is. We all individually must choose to do that by setting ourselves aside and believing in what He has done:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Rom. 12:1, 2).

Bible Passages Courtesy of BibleGateway:
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/…

Sermon: “God, The Heart-Knower”
Nov 10, 2013 | by Tom Powell
https://www.lgministries.org/sermons/god-the-heart-knower/

Greek Word Studies Courtesy of Study Bible:
http://studybible.info/strongs/G1252



“God, The Heart-Knower” (Pt. 6)

For our character to truly change we need people in our lives to challenge us. It takes discipline to be around others who help us to come to see all those areas in our heart that God knows about but we have hidden and excused. We have blind spots that can only be seen through the eyes of someone else. Even our peripheral vision is somewhat blurred unless we turn our heads and truly focus on it. Somebody near us may have been focusing on it and saw it for what it was all along, long before we could, and shouted out so we wouldn’t be harmed by it, and that gave us the opportunity to pick it up and stow it away so others would not get hurt, and that is such a grand blessing when that object of danger is something that stems from our hearts.

Iron sharpens iron and two are better than one because they can lift one another up, and when the Holy Spirit in them brings something about us to our attention we should consider it and truly take it to heart, even when it hurts or embarrasses us (Prov. 27:17; Eccl. 4:9-12). God has faith in us to meet the challenge to change head on and actually win the battle. We all know that, and that is why God has said we should be gathering together all the more as we behold the day drawing near:

24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Heb. 10:24-25).

Times are tense, impregnated with darkness, and bursting forth with all forms of delusion, fear, and anxieties. Gathering together is God’s way of bringing us into the light, challenging us on a personal level, and breaking up the delusion. No one will ever be challenged alone like they will be by another. Me doing something, listening to someone, and receiving a truth on my own means absolutely nothing, but put me amid people and let them push my buttons, that means something! By the way, if you are not married and you get married and have children you will quickly understand what I am saying. We are all God’s button-pushing children. Why do we find it such a challenge to allow Him to use us to help, encourage, and correct one another?

In the church at Thyatira there was a woman who was a self-proclaimed prophetess. God called her a Jezebel, which is not a good name in the Bible (Rev. 2:18-29). Jezebel does not bring back pleasant memories, and she was so cursed by God that at her death no one could ever say who she was or where she was buried, as prophesied by Elijah (2 Kings 9:30-37). This Jezebel prophetess at Thyatira was telling people they could love the Lord and that God had sanctified them but their physical expression of life was totally separate from their spiritual portion of life. In other words, who you are in Christ is who you are and it does not matter what you do on this earth. Sexual immorality, eating foods sacrificed to idols, and the so-called deep secrets of Satan were all okay to practice.
 
Do you know what God said to her? The first thing He said is that He would cast her on a sick bed, a bed of suffering, and anybody who committed adultery with her would suffer immensely. He would then have her watch Him kill all her children and the whole church would know that God is the one that searches the heart (Rev. 2: 21-23). God is the one that knows. We come into the presence of God and trust Him to search out those things in our heart. Truth and the Holy Spirit search us out and shows us where we are at. He displays these things in our heart first so that we can accept it and then he challenges us in a corporate setting in various ways and this is what teaches us to know the heart of God as He adjusts ours to conform with His.
 

Sermon: “God, The Heart-Knower”
Nov 10, 2013 | by Tom Powell
https://www.lgministries.org/sermons/god-the-heart-knower/

Bible Passages Courtesy of BibleGateway:
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/…



“God, The Heart-Knower” (Pt. 5)

We can all say that we struggle with things. Maybe it is the way an individual expresses their faith, or the way they worship. Maybe there is some other element that bothers us. I just want to ask you this because it really is the central point. Has the truth changed? Because if you have changed that, you have changed everything. But all the other extremities mean nothing. Individuals are unique in their gifting and the way they approach the throne of God, and I would ask that we all humbly honor and respect it because that is what we should do for each other We should thank God for the gifts that are being expressed. It is inherently important for us to fully understand this fact; truth that is established by God is not to be, and cannot be altered because His truth is our guiding light. If we do alter it, it is no longer truth and we have sidestepped into darkness.

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life (1 John 5:20).

Change in those realms, various forms and genres of worship and expressions of faith is appealing but it is not truth-altering because truth should always remain the same. The message of truth that we heard, that spoke to all our hearts, is the same. I just want us to live out our lives on this earth having shared that same truth and finish like that. I want us to be individuals that allow the amenities around us to change but the truth will never change. I want us to be true to the things that God has entrusted to us and communicate them as clearly and accurately as we can; to let all the other things be what they are as long as we can all come together and worship the truth, love His word, and live our lives in faith in the one who is the truth, Jesus Christ.

God is the heart-knower:

7… Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart (????????????? (kardiogn?st?s ‘heart-knower’), bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith (Acts 15:7-9). 

9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick (???? (‘a?nash to be incurable); who can understand it? 10 “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds (Jer. 17:9, 10).”

Not only is God the heart-knower but He is the only one that does. The believers that attended the Jerusalem Council, insisting that circumcision must take place, did not intend to harm the body of Christ (Acts 15:5). They believed, and they were convinced in their heart that they were doing the right thing, that this is the way God meant it to be. They were certain of that truth. Did the Holy Spirit convict them? They probably felt compelled in their heart that they were spiritually being led to teach this way. Have you ever been around a person like that? They felt a certainty it was right but it was not proper. The heart plays a role in this and yet it has nothing to do with believing in Christ.
 
God is the heart-knower. Jeremiah informs us that the human heart is not only deceitful but incurably diseased. Think about that. This is one of those diseases that man will search and search but will never find a cure for. But God does know the heart. He searches and understands the condition of the heart in terms that man never will. That is why David could cry out:

Examine me, O Lord, and try me; Test my mind and my heart (Psa. 26:2). And: Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts (Psa. 139:23)!

God challenges our deepest thoughts and emotions. We have all seen some of the most bizarre behavior acted out in the name of Jesus Christ. It is truly amazing what people will do and attach His name to it. But God is the heart-knower. On occasion, we may even hear individuals talk about how spiritual they are and because they love the Lord they are exempt from doing certain activities, like attending church, when the only thing that will never change by you being alone is your character. It will never be challenged and therefore will not change. Our character can only be drawn into the light by someone else:

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another (Prov. 27:17).

Sermon: “God, The Heart-Knower”
Nov 10, 2013 | by Tom Powell
https://www.lgministries.org/sermons/god-the-heart-knower/

Bible Passages Courtesy of BibleGateway:
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/…

Greek and Hebrew Word Studies Courtesy of Study Bible:
http://studybible.info/strongs/G2589
http://studybible.info/strongs/H605



“God, The Heart-Knower” (Pt. 4)

When we behold individuals in Christianity who stand firm in their conviction, unwavering in their belief system, spiritually, politically, and morally, and we watch them bring people to Jesus Christ, it speaks to us of the relationship we ourselves should have with Him, not out of envy or jealousy but simply because God works through us all in various ways. He wants us to be complete in our culture so we can take His message out into the world’s cultures and be effective in our ministry. We began in the faith and, yes, at times our faith is challenged but we should stay true to our faith.

Change is a very interesting thing and this is the challenge of change. Some of the Jewish people were having trouble accepting that people were getting in without having to pay the same price (Acts 15). In other words, they did not have to be circumcised to receive the gift of salvation because the focal point was no longer pinpointed on the Law of Moses. Christians knew it and understood it but it was no longer the means by which they could be righteous. They were looking to Jesus to be their righteousness and this was an offense to these certain Jews:

10… put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all (Col. 3:10, 11).

As a result of these clashing beliefs Paul and Barnabas left Antioch and went to the Jerusalem council where they were welcomed by the church, apostles, and elders and rebuked by believers that belonged to the party of the Pharisees who believed that all must be circumcised and follow the Law of Moses:

4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them. 5 But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses (Acts 15:1-5).”

One thing we can always do is adjust to the world around us, right? But we cannot change our beliefs, can we, because we cannot alter the things that God has established. There was no compromise that could be made at the Jerusalem council. God had chosen to receive the Gentiles based upon faith in Jesus Christ without any outward display. They did not have to be baptized, circumcised, or any fill-in-the-blank outward expressions of their belief. That is why Peter took his stand in defense of God, the heart-knower, and Paul and Barnabas when he addressed the council:

7 … “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. 10 Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will (Acts 15:7-11).”

The Law of Moses was necessary but the yoke was unbearable for men to shoulder and so our Lord bore it for us, and He offered us His yolk by means of our faith in God’s salvation by grace through Jesus Christ:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matt. 11:28-30).

They did not have to speak in different languages or perform persuasive displays of signs and wonders. They had to believe in Jesus Christ and, in so doing, became part of something new. But that was a tremendous conflict with those people who were established in the Jewish church and raised this issue that we can track through the whole of the New Testament. It is therefore inherently important for us to fully understand this fact; truth that is established by God is not to be, and cannot be altered. This truth will guide us in our walk with God because we will know when an earthly yoke is being offered that has not been sent by our Lord Jesus Christ from heaven.

Sermon: “God, The Heart-Knower”
Nov 10, 2013 | by Tom Powell
https://www.lgministries.org/sermons/god-the-heart-knower/

Bible Passages Courtesy of BibleGateway:
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/…



“God, The Heart-Knower” (Pt. 3)

The Law of Moses was necessary but, in some ways, the law we have been delivered to is much more demanding. If we live by it we can have a profound impact on our culture. We are basking under the royal law of love and it greatly affects our ministry and ability to win the lost (James 2:8). The truth is that God wants us to be out in that culture, which is a neutral thing, and not be intimidated by or enslaved to it. We are to be in the world but our citizenship, belief system, and politics is in heaven so that our ethic and rules for this life comes from above, and this is what we bring to the world:

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one (John 17:15). 

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:20). 

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6).

Culture is a very neutral thing. It is men and the treachery of the heart that perverts these things. We see neutral issues all around us. A vehicle is a neutral thing. If a person chooses to break the law and aggressively kill someone is it the vehicle’s fault? No, it is not because it is a neutral entity. A handgun is also a neutral entity but the heart of a human being is what perverts it. The fault lies within the wickedness and perversion of the human heart, what we do in our heart, how we choose to live out our lives in front of others is the very thing that perverts our culture.

Conflict with truth and the way we erode our beliefs is the challenge, and when a believer who faithfully abides by heavenly politics goes out into the world it gives somebody else an alternative culture that they can see and identify with. That is why church, in and of itself, is so important. Church truly presents an alternative culture to people. It is the only time, corporately, that we can do it. It is unified, visual, and Holy Spirit-filled making it a force that impresses upon the mind and heart of people and compels them to change. That is why we have chosen to live out this life with a perfect belief system that comes from above because it stems from the very mind of God in heaven, where we reside as His citizens.

What creates our culture? We believe in something that counts for us. We agree and treat one another accordingly. We are unified based on our belief in our heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the cross He bore for us. We have a belief system, spiritually, politically, and morally and we live out our lives abiding in that. All these things are foundational for building a culture and ours is the exquisitely unique alternative to the whole of this world’s cultures. We all understand that being a believer in Jesus Christ should dramatically change our life.

In Paul’s day, belief in Jesus Christ was not necessarily the issue he was facing. The issue for some of the Jews was the hard-headed notion that more needed to be done than merely being saved by the grace of God through the circumcision of a person’s heart. We can find that very same mindset in circles of Christianity today. The teachings of the Lord are pure, upright, and true and there are many people, past and present, who live their life in His presence never altering their belief system or his word to impress upon other people that they need to do more to be saved. I pray that we all fit snugly into this culture of believers who stick to the cross and salvation bestowed upon each of us by means of God’s immeasurable loving-kindness and grace.

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior (Titus 3:4-6).

Sermon: “God, The Heart-Knower”
Nov 10, 2013 | by Tom Powell
https://www.lgministries.org/sermons/god-the-heart-knower/

Bible Passages Courtesy of BibleGateway:
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/…



“God, The Heart-Knower” (Pt. 2)

7… Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart (????????????? (kardiogn?st?s ‘heart-knower’), bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith (Acts 15:7-9).

Everything continues in its state of rest, or of uniform motion in a right line, unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed upon it (Sir Isaac Newton).

Ten years prior to Acts 15, in Acts 10-11, the Apostle Peter had gone to the Gentiles because God had corrected his heart attitude concerning what is clean and pure in the eyes of the Lord. Even though they had not been baptized or circumcised, Peter witnessed as the Holy Spirit came upon them immediately after they had heard the gospel and believed in their heart. There was no further process required of them. Peter did catch a lot of heat through criticism for preaching to them but he recognized that it was God’s will not his, which persuaded the circumcised to receive them at that time (Acts 11:1-18).

The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him 3 and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them (Acts 11:1-3).” … 15“As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. 17 So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?” 18 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life (Acts 11:15-18).”

There truly is a challenge to changing. Even after ten years there was still a negative Jewish mindset prevailing against the Gentile believer regarding circumcision rather than salvation by grace. Some were convinced that along with someone being converted to Christianity they should be converted to Judaism and follow the Law of Moses. This is not uncommon. We still hear this today. So, once again Paul and Peter had to address this prevailing belief system which compromised the truth regarding circumcision and the circumcision and cleansing of the heart by faith.

The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live (Deut. 30:6).

Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, circumcise your hearts, you people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, or my wrath will flare up and burn like fire because of the evil you have done—burn with no one to quench it (Jer. 4:4).

No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God (Rom. 2:29).

The Law of Moses was necessary but, in some ways, the law we have been delivered to is much more demanding. If we live by it, we can have a profound impact on our culture. We are basking under the royal law of love and it greatly affects our ministry and ability to win the lost.

Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law (Rom. 13:10). 

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Cor. 13:4-7).

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well (James 2:8).

Sermon: “God, The Heart-Knower”
Nov 10, 2013 | by Tom Powell
https://www.lgministries.org/sermons/god-the-heart-knower/

Bible Passages Courtesy of BibleGateway:
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/…

Greek Word Studies Courtesy of Study Bible:
http://studybible.info/strongs/G2589

Isaac Newton Quote Courtesy of Wikiquotes:
https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Isaac_Newton