The Book of Philippians was a written to the church in the city of Philippi in eastern Macedonia. Founded in 358-357 B.C. by Philip the Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great, Philippi was a wellplaced city sitting in an area with rich natural resources and geographical value. The proximity to gold mines and fresh springs made it a prime location as a regional hub. Philippi had an interesting history. After the Romans took the city from the Persians in 168 B.C., it became a Roman station along the Egnatian Way, an east-west road that connected Rome and Byzantium. Philippi became famous in 42 B.C. when it was the site of a battle between Brutus and Cassius (Julius Caesar’s assassins) and Antony and Octavian. Philippi was rebuilt and became a Roman colony, the highest privilege given to a provincial municipality: legal status of a Roman territory in Italy. The city was filled with Roman soldiers, and veterans from his wars; thus, Philippi was a city with a heavy Roman influence. 


1. Introduction to Philippians

The background of the city of Philippi and the founding of the Philippian church help us understand the letter written to the Philippians. Paul’s letter was one of encouragement to unity, humility and thanksgiving. Paul wrote to encourage the believers in Philippi regarding his imprisonment, to thank them for their support, to spur them on to humility and unity by providing an example in both Christ and himself. 

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2. Slave

As believers we are slaves to Christ and to His righteousness. We must see that our lives are not our own and that we are bought with a price (cf. 1 Cor 7). We are either slaves of sin or slaves of righteousness – there is no third way. 

 

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3. The Body of Christ

Paul’s usage of the word “saint” to describe the church at Philippi is not accidental. The word “saint” is common throughout the New and Old Testaments to describe the people of God, specifically those whom God has chosen (Ex. 19:6, cf. Ps. 16:3; 74:3; and Dan 7:8). Being a holy people of God does not mean that we intellectually assent to a set of facts and figures. We are to be holy slaves of God, completely submissive and locked into His will.

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4. Paul's Focus

Paul’s letter to the Philippians is one full of joy, rejoicing, encouragement and humility. As we’ve learned before, the greeting to a letter often serves as an introduction to the themes present in the subsequent paragraphs. Verses 3-11 give us a taste for the message that he will be giving to the Philippians, which applies to us today. Paul’s introduction is not simply an outline of theology. His introduction is in the form of a prayer. Paul thanks God for their partnership and love, and he uses this prayer to affirm God’s faithfulness and love for them.

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5. Confidence 

Paul is able to say with confidence that Christ’s work in the hearts and minds of the Philippians will be brought to completion at the day of Christ Jesus. He speaks to them not out of confidence in their works or abilities, as seen in the next few verses, but rather he roots that confidence in their  participation in the gospel and their partaking of the grace of God. Although those in the world may claim to be the source for hope and change, God’s grace and faithfulness is always the catalyst for such transformation.

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6. Christ Exalted

In the next portion of chapter 1, Paul moves on from his prayer for the Philippian church into encouraging them about his imprisonment. Sometimes we forget the difficulty of Paul’s situation when he was writing to his dearly loved friends in Philippi. Roman prisons weren’t the most pleasant places in the 1st century world, but Paul’s choice in adverse circumstances was to rejoice in the Lord. His confidence in Christ’s work both in his heart and the hearts of the church brought him joy and gave him grounds for rejoicing. Paul’s focus was the advance of the gospel, and its advance allowed him to encourage the Philippians to use their own suffering for the advance of the gospel as well.

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7. To Live is Christ

As we look into this next section, we see that Paul’s view of life through a Christ-centered lens allowed him to view both life and death as beneficial. Paul’s writings in verses 21-26 and 27-30 give us a glimpse into his passion for the advance of the gospel and for his desire to be with Christ. He establishes the beauty of unity within the body of Christ and also models what it looks like to joyfully serve one another. Circumstances for Paul were a means to rejoice in the fruit of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Whether he died or was set free, Christ was proclaimed. He encourages us to live as faithful citizens of the kingdom of God and to stand firm in unity against suffering and opposition. Paul’s model gives us much to learn from in order to faithfully follow Jesus well.

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8. Integrity 

Throughout this section, Paul highlights that unity in humility is key in following Jesus and experiencing the joy of knowing Him. He focuses in on unity by encouraging them to have the same love, thinking the same way, sharing the same feelings and focusing on one goal. This unity, however, doesn’t come naturally. We must work at unity by pursuing humility. We are to do nothing out of rivalry or conceit. We must consider others greater than ourselves. The perfect example of this humility is Christ’s humility in his death on the cross for the sake of others.

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9. Reality Check

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10. Attitude

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11. Why We Worship Him

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12. Obedience: The Manner of Life Worthy of the Gospel 

As we have studied in the past few weeks, Paul spends considerable time in his letter walking through what it looks like to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. He gives us the basis for that walk and the perfect model of implementing it – unity through humility in Christ. Now Paul makes another appeal to the Philippian church, and, by extension, us. It’s important, however, not to take these next verses out of context or fail to see the flow of the message that Paul is giving. It’s easy to take a single verse and base an entire theology off of it without understanding the context where it lies.  

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13. The Jesus War

Paul leads off by telling the Philippians to do everything without grumbling or complaining. This imperative is directly related to the verses coming before it. It’s a practical outworking of “working out our salvation.” Paul’s instruction to stay away from grumbling and complaining is most likely an allusion to the same grumbling and arguing pattern that the Israelites had in the wilderness.

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14. The Work of the Gospel

Paul begins this section by commending Timothy to the Philippians and communicates his hope to send him along to aid in their growth. On the surface it would seem like this is simply a narrative piece of scripture that doesn’t have much bearing on the lives of the Philippians and by extension, our lives, but that is not the case. Paul is giving the Philippians church an example of a Christ-like mindset. As we discussed before, real life examples of deep doctrinal truths are needed in order to grow in Christ-likeness and to see what it looks like to live in such a way.  

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15. Rejoice in the Lord

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16. Rejoice in the Lord pt. 2

After providing an example of those who are enemies of the cross and who are trying to lead astray the Philippian believers, Paul turned to himself as the final example of what it looks like to follow Jesus well. We saw the model of Christ in Timothy and Epaphroditus but Paul turns to using himself as an example. In verses 4-6 of chapter 3, Paul gave his own resume of being blameless under the law and a Pharisee of Pharisees. Verses 7-11 however give us an interesting insight into what Paul thought of all of his good deeds.  

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17. Rejoice in the Lord pt. 3

Paul’s letter to the Galatians is a unique one because it is written to specifically address an issue in the church in a logical, stern manner. The Judiazers, those who advocated circumcision in addition to faith in Jesus, had infiltrated the church and were spreading a false gospel. This problem wasn’t a new one to Paul’s ministry but it had reared its ugly head in a destructive manner in the church in Galatia. 

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18. From Law to Relationship

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19. Citizens

Paul highlights the importance of the pattern of living for the believer and pushes the follower of Jesus to imitate those who walk as citizens of the kingdom of heaven. Although our behavior and conduct do not save us, that does not preclude us from living in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ (1:27). Our behavior is important! Our lives should mirror our transformed hearts. 

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20. Conflict Resolution

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21. Joy

As Paul moves through his rapid-fire commands to the Philippian church, we can’t miss the intentionality in it. These aren’t random commands but rather they are rooted in all of the theology that comes before it. Joy (or rejoicing) is a recurring motif throughout the letter. Paul uses the word group (joy, rejoice, etc.) 16 times throughout his letter. This letter to the Philippians is one full of joy and affection. Paul encourages the Philippians to rejoice! We see Paul talking about joy in two ways throughout this letter: his joy and their joy. 

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22. Peace of God

Life can be wrought with anxiety — things go wrong at work, the kids aren’t obeying, finances are tight, you lose your job, or your relationships are on the rocks. With all the stresses of life who came blame you for being anxious? For the unbeliever, it’s natural for life to be ridden with anxiety and fear, but Paul exhorts Christians to approach life differently. In this next section of scripture, Paul instructs the Philippian church to be anxious for nothing because the Lord is near to us. Instead of being anxious, we are to bring our requests to God with thanksgiving. Paul tells us that in our gratitude-filled prayer, the peace of God, which surpasses all human reason and understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 

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23. Christian Mind

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24. Contentment

Paul continues his theme of thanksgiving and rejoicing in the Lord as he moves into a note of thanksgiving for the Philippian church. As we noted before, Paul’s letters have a common theme and thread that ties them together: a Christ-like mindset that produces joy and peace in the life of the believer. Having the mind of Christ transforms the way that we approach all areas of life. Paul demonstrates the mind of Christ in his contentment in all circumstances and calls us to do the same. 

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25. The Glory of God

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The Doctrine of God


1. Existing and Knowing 

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2. Knowing God

God’s existence is not hidden from us nor is it difficult to see. The Bible assumes from cover to cover that God exists. It’s an obvious truth. The problem is our response to that truth when we suppress it or as Robert Culver says we exercise our “ability to put unwelcome knowledge out of our conscious thought.”

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3. Sovereignty, Supremacy & Immutability 

God is an infinite, all-powerful and perfect God. The Bible tells us what characteristics He holds and embodies although even Scripture cannot contain the vastness of God’s nature and attributes.  Today’s study covers three very important facets of God’s nature. These three attributes go hand in hand and are necessary for the others to exist and function properly...

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4. Love 

Love is the most overused, underused, and misunderstood word in existence.  Ultimately, we must look to the author and embodiment of love itself to fully understand it and its many facets and practicalities. Looking outside of Christ for our 
definition of love will leave us unsatisfied and misinformed. The attribute of God’s love is one that defines the other attributes and is extremely important in our lives. 

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5. Holiness

God's purity, complete “other-ness” and perfection, all form the basis for all of His other attributes. It gives us as believers the ability to rest in His love, to trust in His faithfulness, and believe in the unchanging nature of our loving Father. 

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6. Authority Properly Applied 

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7. Grace Part 1

Pastor John Schouten defines grace as goodness towards those who need punishment.The grace of God is a fundamental tenant of the Christian faith. Without grace, communion with God is impossible, the Christian life is one of works, and salvation would be impossible. 

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8. Grace Part 2

Grace is essential for us to know God and to be known by Him. Our sinfulness and inability to work our way to holiness makes grace the indispensable component in our salvation. God’s initiative of grace through Christ’s death for our sins is the saving force for us. His grace in giving us the Spirit gives us the power to live the Christian life. 

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9. Wisdom 

Wisdom is the ability to see the end from the beginning, to see everything in proper relation and in full focus. God’s infinite power makes Him infinitely wise. He can accomplish whatever He pleases, and accomplish it perfectly (Ps. 115:3). He is all wise: the very definition of wisdom (Job 12:13, Ephesians 1:8, Romans 16:27). 

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10. Beauty 

God is immensely beautiful. “God is God,” wrote Jonathan Edwards, “and distinguished from [that is, set apart from] all other beings, and exalted above ’em, chiefly by his divine beauty.” His beauty is seen throughout Scripture. Psalm 50:2 speaks of the perfection of His radiant beauty. Psalm 96:6 talks of the strength and beauty in His sanctuary. David writes that all he desires is to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and seeking Him where He can be found. This beauty motivates us, drives us, and transforms us (2 Cor 3:18; cf. 1 John 3:2-3). 

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The Doctrine of Christ


1. The Need to Understand

 

 

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2. Humanity

The incarnation blows away any idea that God meets us halfway. Matthew 1:23 tells us that Christ’s name was to be Immanuel, which means God with us. He came to us to be with us and to belike us. He grew up like us, knew our sorrows, laughed like us, cried like we do, and saved us because we could not save ourselves. He was not just with us in theory but rather in the tangible flesh.  

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3. Divinity

Why does Christ’s divinity matter? Why does our understanding of who Jesus is have to be informed by Scripture?  Last week we studied the the humanity of Christ and its importance in our daily lives. The divinity of Christ is equally important to our faith and practice. If Jesus is God with us, then Jesus was God in bodily form. We will briefly explore some proofs of Christ’s divinity directly from Scripture. 

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4. Fully God and Fully Man 

Like we’ve been studying the past few weeks, Jesus is fully God and fully human. Why does this matter, you ask? Why do we continue to come back to this reality? The answer is simple. The implications of a God-Man are immense. If Jesus is God then He is worthy of our worship. If Jesus is man, He can identify with us in our weakness...

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5.  Christ the Healer 

Christ’s healing abilities come directly from His mission to make things right. He came to seek and save the lost, to draw all men and women to Himself, and to heal the broken hearted. He does this through the healing of our hearts from sin and through glorifying Himself in our bodies through healing and our good works.

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6. Son of God

 

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7. Prophet, Priest and King 

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8. Jesus is Good News 

This week we see Christ’s humanity and divinity on display in the story of the woman at the well in John 4, as well as the way that Jesus approaches this woman with the gospel. The way that he deals with the woman at the well demonstrates the way that Christ, both fully man and fully God, engages with us in the midst of our sin. 

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9. Jesus our Rest

The rest that Christ gives us is the rest of the Gospel. His perfect life, undeserved death, and glorious resurrection secure for us an eternal rest that we could never achieve. Christ freely gives us rest from sin, death, and hell, which was impossible through the law, while rest through a neglect of the law proved unfruitful as well. 

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10. Christ our Holiness

By His very nature, Christ calls us to holiness. He did not leave us without a means by which we could achieve it. He died to give us his righteousness and sent the Spirit to us to help us achieve righteousness and holiness here.

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11. Grace and Effort 

Sanctification, the act of being made holy, can be a difficult thing to understand for new believers and seasoned believers alike. How much work do we have to put in? Does God do it all? Do we just “let go and let God?” Can we walk in holiness? The discussion of grace and effort in the Christian life can be seen in the way that Paul addresses the churches. 

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12. Christ is Preeminent

Christ is greater than our sin and has defeated sin for us once and for all. On the cross, our guilt and shame were washed away. Our debt was paid and our inheritance secure. This has implications, however: our salvation eliminates any source of pride. We can’t boast in our good works or in what we have done for others.

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13. So What? 

In our series on the Doctrine of Christ, we’ve covered a myriad of topics and seen different facets of Christ. So what, though? Why does all of this matter? We’ve covered a ton of material over the past few months; sometimes it can be tough to connect all the dots and apply it to our lives. 

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The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit


1. Introduction 

In Christian circles the mention of the Holy Spirit can invoke a number of emotions and reactions; some immediately think of televangelists and healing rallies, and some think of one who regenerates hearts and reveals scripture to our souls. So often our experiences and past church teachings sway our view of the third person of the Trinity...

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2. The Coming Promise Part 1

Often times when discussing the Holy Spirit we only think of him in a New Testament sense. We examine how He interacted with the Apostles and early church, how He interacts with us now and works in our hearts, but we rarely think through the Spirit’s work in the Old Testament. If the trinity is coeternal and coequal then the Holy Spirit has been at work in human history from the beginning, as Genesis 1:2 affirms.

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3. The Coming Promise Part 2

On the day of Pentecost, the Counselor and the third member of the Trinity was introduced to the believers on earth. The Spirit’s engagement with the believers empowered them to carry out the mission of Christ in the world, namely, to make disciples of all nations. This is the mission of the church in this age. We are to be about what the Spirit is about because the Spirit is the current expression of the Kingdom of God in our day and age.

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4. The Coming Promise Part 3

As we’ve learned the past few weeks, the Holy Spirit can be a confusing person to understand and interact with. Our tendencies are to either overvalue his presence and physical manifestations or just pretend that He just enlightens scripture and regenerates hearts. We know that both of those extremes aren’t helpful to our walk with Christ. 

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5. Our Guide to all Truth 

One of the most fundamental things that the Holy Spirit does is convict us of sin. The Spirit gives us the power to look inward and understand the idols of our hearts. He illuminates our sin and points us to the glorious grace that Christ gives us. Repentance is very important. Christian growth is warfare. It’s worth asking the tough questions and doing the hard work of discovering what leads us away from this glorious God.

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6. The Holy Spirit our Teacher

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7. Walking in the Spirit Part 1

We need to embrace the convicting work of the Spirit in our lives and use it as an opportunity to know Christ more deeply. Our ability to interact with the Spirit’s conviction is a blessing that many of us fail to take advantage of. Typically when we as Christians feel conviction we run from it or remain distant from it, but sin is pervasive in our hearts and needs to be worked against through the power of the Spirit. 

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8. Walking in the Spirit Part 2

The Holy Spirit’s work in our heart and His conviction of sin are not random acts. They are intentional. He’s in it for the long haul, as well. His work is rarely an immediate change. He works slowly through meditation and study of the word, prayer, and community. His work may seem slow and painful, and may come in ways that we do not desire or expect, but it is a good work and a loving work. His work in us is for our good, our joy, and for the glory of God. 

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9. Distinguishing His Voice 

As we move throughout our lives, there are a plethora of voices that we listen to and take guidance from. We gain information as we work, navigate relationships, and spend time with our families. These voices influence the way that we think and act towards others and ourselves. Today we will touch on three common voices in our lives. 

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10. The Practicality of the Spirit / Grace Leads to Strength

God is a God of rest, a God of peace. Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, gives us some insight into the Christian life and the beauty of resting in the God of peace. As we walk through these verses we will find that God sanctifies us, purifies us, keeps us, and brings us peace; and the best part is that He does it, not us. He restores and keeps us blameless by advocating for us and paying the great debt that we owed. He gives us rest. 

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11. Emotional Transformation 

As we talk through the Spirit’s personal interaction with us as believers, one of the areas that is crucial to understand is the role that emotions play in the Christian life. We all have them; and they can range in depth and width in any given moment. How we feel, what we desire, and how we imagine life to be, all play a part in our interactions with both God and others.
Emotions are one of the hardest things to control and are a large part of how we live our lives. 

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12. A View From Above

The entire section in Colossians 3 is in present active indicative tense. Paul is communicating the present, ongoing control of our thinking but also combined with his power in us. The Holy Spirit works in our hearts but He also enables us to work with Him in our transformation. We are actively setting our minds on the things of the Spirit and actively putting to death the deeds of the flesh. 

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13. What I Know Vs What I Feel 

The church at Colossae struggled with a heresy that had permeated the church. This heresy taught that human self-control and will power could overcome unrighteousness. They believed that their self-effort could help them gain righteousness. Paul, in his letter to them, confronts this falsehood and pushes them instead to remember their life in Christ. 

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14. Renewal 

With a new identity comes a new way of living. We cannot be made new but not begin to act like new people. The tendency is for us as new creations in Christ to continue to live and act like we once were. We must learn to think and act in new ways with the new self rather than old ways with the new self. 

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15. The Gifts: An Intro

Spiritual gifts in the church is an enormous topic that has received much press in the Christian community within the past few decades, especially regarding the more spectacular gifts. The gifts are an extremely important part of a believer’s life and the life of the gospel community, but they tend to be either misused or completely eliminated in the life of the church. 

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16. Naturally Supernatural 

As Paul works through in His passages on the gifts, he doesn’t see these supernatural gifts as an addition or “next level” to Christianity. He saw them as a necessary part of our life in Christ. Our identity does not rest upon our giftings or our ability to perform miracles and speak in tongues. We are identified with Christ in His death and our purpose comes out of our newfound life in Him. The gifts in the church are also way more diverse than simply the more “spectacular” gifts of healing and prophecy. The lists of the gifts range from administration to hospitality. We must be careful not to fall
into the temptation of looking at our gifts as a barometer for our maturity in Christ. 

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17. Purpose and Practice

 

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The Doctrine of the Church

What is the church? When thinking of the church, many images come to mind: a white chapel on a hill; a trendy house church in an urban area; a Catholic cathedral with ornate tapestries; and many others. These are not bad images of churches, but they are far from complete. The Greek word for assembly in the New Testament ekklesia is used to define the church throughout the ages. Although the word assembly doesn’t necessarily mean church, it still communicates an important aspect of the body of believers.

The church is a community of redeemed believers in Christ who gather regularly to hear God’s word, worship in song and in giving, and take in the Lord’s Supper, who then scatter into the community to share the gospel and make disciples, while blessing the city for the glory of God. Church is way more than a Sunday morning exercise; it’s who we are as Christians. 


1. Who Do You Say That I Am? 

When speaking of the church as an assembly of believers, we must know what separates other assemblies from the holy assembly of believers. There are many views on the different marks of church but there are three that are common among most views. We see preaching of the word as one mark of the church. The church’s foundation is on the solid rock of Scripture. Without proper preaching of God’s word, the church becomes a social club full of opinions and sin. The church must include the proper administration of baptism and communion. These ordinances are in place to aid in making the gospel visible within the church. They serve as a reminder of Christ’s work in our hearts and lives, and our profession of faith in Christ.

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2. Can You Admit You Are Always Need? 

Life in the kingdom of God is much different than any other life known to man. The kingdom of God seems foolish to those who aren’t followers of Jesus. We are part of an unseen kingdom that is not yet fully realized but is still very much present. The tension of living the Christian life can be felt in the “already-not yet” of the kingdom of God. 

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3. Are You Aware of the Cost? 

Life in the kingdom seems backwards sometimes: we must lose in order to gain; we must die in order to live; we must give in order to get; we deserve nothing, yet gain everything by grace. Christ is communicating that our love for Him should make love for your closest friends and family members look like hate in comparison.

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4. The Life of Christ Part 1 

As we’ve been studying the doctrine of the church, we’ve seen that the church is the people of the king between the already and the not yet of the kingdom of God.2 Before moving forward into the nuances of how church is structured and the nature thereof, we will briefly explore Christ’s atoning work on the cross which enables us to become the people of the King in this world.

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5. The Life of Christ Part 2 

Christ’s death on the cross accomplished a number of things for His followers. He purchased our freedom, ransomed us, paid our debt, was our substitute, and was the propitiation for our sins. All of these things happened in a way that we could never replicate. Christ died the death that we deserved and he lived the life we could never live. His blood washed our sins away and gave us a new identity.

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6. Worship 

We know and understand that worship is the act of glorifying God on a large scale with every aspect of our lives. But, what about in our gathering? The time of worship in the church is a time when we come into God’s presence with conscious adoration in our hearts, where we praise Him with our voices and speak about Him in ways that others can hear. This time of corporate singing is where we are able to vocally proclaim as a community that God is worthy of worship. 

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7. Unity and Purity: Handling Conflict 

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8. Grace Giving 

Money can be a touchy subject in anyone’s life, especially those in the church. The abuse of church finances and the mishandling of biblical texts concerning money both run rampant in the American church. Churches tend to preach on giving and guilt those in the church to give or they downplay the importance of money and never speak of it. As a people following Jesus, we are to have a healthy understanding of money and finances in order to impact the world for the gospel. 

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9. Stewardship 

As we’ve learned over the past few weeks, our relationship to money is a direct reflection of our hearts. Money is a stressful and difficult topic to discuss in the church and in the world. People willingly sleep with multiple partners and give their bodies away to strangers but refuse to part with their cash, even for a good cause. A Godly understanding of money and budgeting is extremely important in following Jesus well. Jesus tells a parable in Luke 16 that illustrates the importance of good money management and wise stewardship of resources in the furthering of the kingdom.

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10. Spiritual Gifts 

Spiritual gifts are an extremely important part of a believer’s life and the life of the gospel community. Without them, the church cannot fulfill its purpose of glorifying Christ fully through transformed disciples. It is important to remember that the when speaking of the gifts, we need to keep in mind that Holy Spirit is not an ‘it’ but rather a ‘He.’ The Spirit is not like The Force in Star Wars that can be wielded and manipulated at will. Unfortunately, some in the church treat Him as such. We believe the Holy Spirit (The Force) is strong with some and not with others, when, in reality, the Holy Spirit empowers us all and gifts us uniquely according to His will. Paul dismisses this hierarchical notion in his letters. 

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11. Means of Grace

Grace is one of those words that is often flippantly thrown around both inside and outside of the church without a good understanding of what it truly means. Some say that people grace us with their presence; they say that we just need to show one another grace and not judge people; and some say that God’s grace is conditional. It has been a poorly defined word in both Christian and worldly culture. Without a proper understanding of grace, we risk being soft on sin and allowing people to do whatever they please. 

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12. Doctrine Matters

The American church has a tendency to focus on the personal, subjective relationship with Jesus and be apprehensive when it comes to right and true doctrine. The hunger for learning in the church has decreased while the focus on personal experience has increased. Both personal experience and increased learning are not enemies, however; they are close friends and we must not try to separate or reconcile them. We cannot sacrifice one for the other. Balance is important and must be strived for.

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1 CORINTHIANS


1. Someone Has Stolen Our Tent

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2. The Condition of the Church 

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3. Division in the Church 

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4. Divisions of the Mind 

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5. The Division of What Was and What Is

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6. The Division of Wisdom

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7. Division

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8. The Division between Life and life

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9. Church Leaders

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10. Discipline

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11. Why is Sex Before Marriage a Sin?

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GENESIS

1. In the Beginning God

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2. Then God Said 

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3. After Their Kind 

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4. The Temple of God

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5. From Which Tree Are You Eating? 

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6. If Only We Could Remember 

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7. Humanity / Image 

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8. Humanity / Image 2

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Lusting, Indulging, and Dead - Father's Day 2017

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Expectations - Mother's Day 2017

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Mephibosheth - 1 Samuel

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Sanctity of Human Life Month

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The Holiness of Sex

A good God for his glory and our joy designed sex intentionally. Sex of any kind outside of the holy covenant of marriage is unholy and misguided sex. Sex is not our invention; it is His precious gift designed for our pleasure, but it cannot be separated from His glory.   

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The Danger of Sex

Sex is good. Really good. But it has to be viewed rightly. We can’t take an amazing, good gift and make it an insufficient god. Sex is a dangerous thing when misused. It’s amazingly transformative and worshipful when put in its rightful place. 

 

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The Good Samaritan

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Missions

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Drawn Out

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Sending

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The Fight for Life

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Heartbeats

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Immanuel

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Glorious Grace

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I Will Display Wonders

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Faith - Easter 2015

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Good Friday

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 Matriarchs Days

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1. The Passion of the Church

The passion of the church is Christ Jesus. Our passion is to know Him deeply and to actively make Him known in our families and communities. The mission of the church is to share the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ with those who don’t yet know Him and those who know Him already. We call this evangelism and discipleship. Sharing the gospel with those around us who do not yet know Jesus is one of the biggest responsibilities of the church and it should be something we are passionate about. 

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2. The Purpose of the Church

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3. The Mission of the Church

As we continue our study on the different facets of the church, this week we are discussing the mission of the church. This is a large topic to cover and much as has been written on this subject, especially in the past 50 years. Is the mission of the church to feed the poor? Is it to heal the sick? Is it to recycle and shut down coal plants in order to lower our carbon footprint? Is the mission of the church to live in a holy huddle and never engage the culture? Or is the mission of the church including a little bit of each of these questions? 

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4. The Future of the Church 

As we end our series about the different facets of the church in light of our new building, we now come to the future of the church. Let's do a quick review. The passion of the church is Jesus Christ. The purpose of the church is to know Him and make Him known. The mission of the church is to make disciples of both believers and non-believers alike. The future of the church is the glorious hope that we have in our beloved savior coming again to make all things new (Revelation 21:1-8). 

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The Gospel of John

 

1. Intro to the Gospel of John

John’s gospel is chock full of language contrasting two absolutes: light and darkness, life and death, Spirit or Flesh, above and below, those who practice righteousness and those who practice evil, those who are blind and those who can see, etc. These larger themes are present throughout the narrative and they point to the vital need to believe in Jesus. 

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2. The Birth of Christ

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3. Witness

The biggest hurdle to sharing the gospel is lack of belief in it. We must have a deep, transforming understanding of Christ’s work in our lives. If we haven’t understood the hopeless darkness that we were once walking in, if we haven’t comprehended the dead nature that we once had, we won’t see Christ’s work and sacrifice as something worth sharing. 

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4. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Throughout the Old Testament, we see God’s initiative in giving the Spirit to men. He gave without merit and also He manifested Himself in different ways depending on the person. The Holy Spirit is intensely personal and unique in His interactions with men and women. 

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5. Becoming

This week we are going to focus on Peter and his failure and restoration. We can learn much from Peter’s story and life. His ups and downs, confessions and rebukes, failures and restoration all show us the beauty of the Christian life through thick and thin. 

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6. Church 101

Jesus’s modus operandi was to start large and end up small. Throughout his ministry, Jesus spoke to large crowds. He taught them and called them to follow Him. Jesus didn’t simply speak to large crowds for the majority of His ministry. He focused in on twelve people where He teaches them more specifically. He’s speaking into their lives on a unique level. He’s training them to be like Him. He’s grooming them to carry the mission forward.

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7. Indicative-Imperative

Throughout Scripture, we are never instructed to do anything without first being reminded of who we are. Behavior always follows belief. Who we are informs what we do. We see this in the letters of Paul. The letter to the Ephesians is a perfect example of this. 

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8. The Cleansing of the Temple

In 1 Corinthians 6:19, the apostle Paul refers to us now being the temple of the Holy Spirit. Jesus has the same zeal to cleanse us as well. Just as He went through the temple to cleanse it of improper worship and neglect of the holiness of God, Jesus will go through out hearts and cleanse us of all that is impure.  

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9. Born Again

Our rebirth is not predicated upon our works or our will. The Spirit of God gives rebirth to us as a gift. This is what he promised to the Israelites in the Old Testament through the prophets and what He promises us today. All we must do is believe. 

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10. Jesus: The Light in the Darkness

From football games to sandwich boards on street corners, John 3:16 is one of the most iconic and ubiquitous verses in the entire Bible. The majority of Americans could recognize it and possibly recite it, yet most do not understand its depths, cannot ascertain its meaning, and rarely take it to heart as one of the most important things to ponder personally. 

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11. Testimony

As we wrap up chapter three of John, we come to another section that continues to reinforce the surpassing value of Christ over Old Covenant Judaism. From chapter 2 through now, Jesus is seen as the new wine that brings joy that Judaism and the law could never bring; He’s the new temple and becomes the mediator between God and man; and he fulfills the old testament prophecies of regeneration and new birth.

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12. Prejudice

As the gospel impacts our lives, it leaves no part of us untouched. It is easy for us to compartmentalize our lives and only think that Christ can rule over the parts we want Him to. Following Jesus requires us to lay down our entire lives. We must submit to His Lordship in all areas. 

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13. Resting in the Sovereign Goodness of God

Often, in God's Kingdom, not getting what we want is actually the better gift. Praise God, in his sovereign goodness, that when the Jews wanted a noble king on a throne, God sent a baby in a stable. 

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14. The Resurrection 

The resurrection of Christ is not only the most pivotal event in Christianity, but in the history of the world. It is the grand crescendo of the work of Christ. It is the validation of Christ's witness, divinity, and sufficiency of his atonement. It is on this one fact that Christianity either stands or falls; our faith, preaching, spiritual life, and eternity rest on the truth of the resurrection. 

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15. Setting the Captives Free

When we confess our sins, even the most shameful, Jesus forgives and cleanses us of that sin. It is essential to understand that Jesus is willing and able to forgive the seemingly unforgivable in each of us. 

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16. What's the Point?

Gospel of John are all meant to create faith, belief and worship of Christ in the heart of those who witness them. The signs that Jesus does are not simply for the entertainment or material benefit of those around. These signs are meant to create faith in Jesus Christ. 

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17. Do You Want To Get Well?

We must remember that healing and miracles always point to the glory of God and are used in ways to glorify Him that we don’t understand. Christ's work is not contingent upon how much faith we can muster. We see throughout Scripture that Christ saves and heals those who have nothing good inside of them. We have been healed from our enslavement to sin by God’s divine initiative. 

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18. Life in His Name

Christ is both the giver of life and the judge. This means that He is worthy of all honor. The Father is not fighting for glory with Jesus. As Christ is glorified, God the Father is glorified as well. They are both unified in their love for one another and their goal. 

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19. Eternal Life

Humanity walks into the courtroom guilty and the sentence for this guilt is death. We have no case to make. The hope that followers of Christ have, however, is the eternal life and righteousness of Christ himself. His righteousness has been imputed to us. Because of this, we will walk out of that courtroom acquitted. We do not go into condemnation; rather we go directly to life.

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20. Crucial Breakdown

We must have a love for Scripture and for learning, but not in the way that the Jews had. The Jews searched the Scriptures for status. We must search the Scriptures for Christ. This passage is not an indictment of the diligent study of the Bible. We must be learners from the word of God. We must have a hunger to know it inside and out. But our reason for doing so is always the glory of God and the practical outworking of our theology. 

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21. Intentional Love

God is love. We’ve all heard that phrase before, some of us many times! What does the love of God look like? How do we share the love of God? How does the love of God inform how we love? This week we will walk through a basic overview of the love of God for his people in saving them from sin, death and hell. 

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22. Bread of Life Part 1

John 6 is commonly called the bread of life discourse. John covers the feeding of the 5000 in the first part of the chapter; he takes a brief aside and recounts Jesus walking upon the water; then he comes back to Jesus teaching about him being the bread of life. He teaches the necessity of trusting and believing in him for eternal life. The Jews show that they were excited about the wrong Christ. Their preconceived notions what the kingdom of God was going to look like and their notions of what the king was going to do blinded them to the true king and the true kingdom. 

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23. Bread of Life Part 2

Total reliance on God is not only necessary for salvation, but we must learn through various trials that we depend on His grace in every area of life. We often can lament our situations so much that we miss God’s gracious and loving hand in them. 

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24. Bread of Life Part 3

We have been working through John 6 the past few weeks. This chapter in New Testament contains the bread of life discourse. Christ is revealing himself as the life-giving bread that satisfies in a way that no other bread can. He confronts the superficiality of the Jews following him and weeds out those who are only following him for their own benefit. 

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25. True Bread

The Jews had turned God’s law into a self-glorifying religion and needed to see that the law had been given to teach us that we cannot please God by our own will and merit. The only way to eternal life is to eat the true bread that came from heaven. We do this by looking on the Son, believing in him, and coming to him. 

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26. The Miracle of Effectual Grace

The invitation that Jesus gives to the crowd of disciples, as well as to all people, to repent and abide in Him, is utterly genuine and totally free. But the very serious problem of sin, and its deceptive beauty, is that it has so pervasively enslaved the heart, mind, and will of every person, that turning away from it and turning toward a true, abiding belief in Jesus, requires nothing short of the Father’s miraculous, effectual grace. 

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27. The Feast of Tabernacles

At this point in the book of John, Jesus has just finished up the Bread of Life discourse where he communicates to his disciples that they must look to him and him alone for true satisfaction and life. Jesus declares that he is the bread of life and if anyone desires salvation they must eat and drink of him. Naturally, this teaching was very hard for the people to accept. Many of those who were following Jesus walked away because he required too much of them. 

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28. Is Jesus Demon-Possessed?

In this next part of John 7, Jesus is further challenging the religious leaders and their inconsistencies. He continues to point to his divinity and his mission from God the Father. He goes on to show his rationale in healing the man on the Sabbath while encouraging the Jews keep from making snap judgments based on appearances but by using righteous judgment. 

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29. Stumbling Block

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30. Clarity

As we have been studying through the book of John, we have seen time and time again the importance of right belief. As Christ reveals himself to the different people in his travels, he is constantly hammering home the point of pursuing the truth, worshiping rightly, and believing correctly. This is why theology matters. We must know God rightly in order to worship him rightly. 

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31. The Beauty of Sex

Sex is not a bad thing. It is not something to be avoided. It is a beautiful gift. This gift needs to be used properly. When we engage in sex in a covenant relationship, Christ is glorified and we are filled with joy. In the coming weeks, we will explore the other areas of human sexuality, the Bible, and how we can faithfully glorify God. 

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32. Light of the World

The light of Christ in our hearts is a beautiful thing even though it tends to shine on the ugly parts of who we are. The wonderful thing about the light is that it doesn’t simply identify sin; it heals it too.  

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33. Truth and Lies

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34. The Day of Christ

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35. When the Blind See

In John 9, we come across another illustration of Christ being the light of the world. Jesus announces in John 8:12 that he is shining the light of God’s truth onto a planet covered in the darkness of sin. He showed us that belief in him moves a person from life in the darkness into the light of life. 

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36. Encountering Jesus

Following Jesus is an intimate and loving thing. We need not draw back from him in fear or shame, but we must rest in his love for us as believers - as his sheep. This means that we have access to him for him to meet our needs and guide us in paths of righteousness. He is the good shepherd.

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37. My Warrior, My God

Last week we covered the beginning of John 10 where Jesus uses a figure of speech as an indictment against the Pharisees and religious leaders. We saw that he used the picture of sheep and a shepherd. The sheep know their shepherd and they enter through the door to find life. The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy, but Christ came to bring life

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38. The Assurance of the Believer

The beauty of assurance is that we are free to pursue Jesus without fear of losing our salvation. Christ was the initiator in salvation. He is the one making us holy. He is the one who keeps us to the end. 

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39. Miracles

In order to receive the future blessings of the Kingdom, we must presently submit to His reign in trust here and now. The Kingdom of God includes an inner redemptive blessing to those who submit to his Lordship in their lives. Our participation in the Kingdom means that we are going to seek to impact the world for Christ. 

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40. The Intersection of Love & Glory

We like to be the ones who are in control. We like to avoid suffering and pain. But sometimes suffering and pain are necessary for us to become the people that God has called us to be. Suffering and pain are used for us to make us into the image of Christ. 

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41. Resurrection and the Life

In the midst of Martha’s sadness and frustration that her brother had died, Christ brings her assurance that he not only has the power to raise Lazarus from the dead but that he is that power. He alone controls eternal life. 

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42. The Raising of Lazarus

The good news of Lazarus’s situation (and ours too) is that God is rich in mercy and he sent Jesus to raise those who are dead to life. Lazarus was raised from the dead. He didn’t ask to be raised but Christ raised him out of his mercy and grace. This illustrates that Jesus is indeed the resurrection and life. 

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43. Getting in the Wheelbarrow

Throughout the Gospel of John we see the common thread of knowledge leading to action. According to John, belief in Christ is not a passive thing. We do not sit back and simply “believe” in him without it driving us to action. There are many who believe facts about God or maybe believe that he died on a cross, but they are not transformed by it. 

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44. Devotion

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45. Missing Jesus

Throughout the Old Testament we see God promising His people a deliverer and savior who will bring salvation. Not only would he bring salvation, but an intimacy with God that had not been experienced before. As we move into this next section of Scripture we will see that this expectation of a Messiah had changed from a healthy expectation to one that was of their own making. 

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46. Salvation: Costly to Give, Costly to Receive

Similar to a seed of wheat that dies, and is buried, and produces a harvest of new life, Jesus, through His saving death, resurrection, and exaltation, will produce a fruitful harvest of sons and daughters, who, like Him, are called to deny themselves by dying to sin in order to walk in the light of life. 

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47. The Obvious Gift

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48. Communion

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49. Love God, Love Your Neighbor Part 1

Loving God is not a nebulous, ambitious, spiritual experience. It has practical outflow into our lives and the lives of others. Following Jesus and loving Jesus is full of joy and reward. We get to experience this joy through sharing the good news of Jesus with those around us. If He truly is the treasure that we prize so highly, we must share his beauty with those around us. 

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Love God. Love Your Neighbor Part 1

Loving God is not a nebulous, ambitious, spiritual experience. It has practical outflow into our lives and the lives of others. Following Jesus and loving Jesus is full of joy and reward. We get to experience this joy through sharing the good news of Jesus with those around us. If He truly is the treasure that we prize so highly, we must share his beauty with those around us. 

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Love God. Love Your Neighbor Part 2

There are many lessons we can learn from Christ’s life, and one of them is how we must be present in our moments and circumstances in order to share the love of Christ. It’s difficult to shift our mindset to be look- ing for those in need, but once the Holy Spirit begins to change us we see that it’s easier than we think. 

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The Mission of the Church

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Vision & Values: Worship Jesus

As we continue in our series on VGF Church’s vision, we now come to our first value: Worship Jesus. This seems simple at first. Of course we would want to value worshipping Jesus! Why wouldn’t we? Surprisingly, however, we can easily forget that everything we do should be driven worshipping Jesus.

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Vision & Values: Discipleship 

This week we will be discussing our second value as a church: Discipleship. Throughout our lives we make tons of decisions, both small and large. These decisions aren’t made in a vacuum. There is reasoning that goes into them. We use emotion to process our decisions, but often times we don’t filter our decisions through any sort of values system. We at VGF desire to have a set values system that allows us to make sure that we are in step with what the Lord is calling us to do. Our first value was to worship Jesus in all that we do. This week, we are going to cover the value of disciples making disciples.

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Vision & Values: Living in Community 

Life is not designed to be lived alone. In a world where isolation is the norm and it's easy to get lost in the crowd, we need community and relationships more than ever. True growth and change come from deep relationships centered around the Good News of Jesus Christ. God created us to live in community, and we most effectively live out our mission as the family of God, together.

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Vision & Values: Prayer

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Vision & Values: Life at VGF

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50. Jesus the Servant

As we dive back into the Gospel of John, let’s do a quick review of where we are. Chapter 13 begins with a narrative introduction to Jesus’ final discourse. This chapter marks the end of Jesus’ public ministry. John now turns to the Passion narrative and the teaching given to the disciples in chapters 14-17. This next sec- tion of the book of John is now demonstrating Jesus’ path to the cross. 

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51. I Am Judas

As we saw last week, Jesus and his disciples had sat down together for the Passover meal. This meal commemorated God’s salvation of the Israelites during the last plague during the Exodus. As Christ and his disciples were eating, Jesus knelt down and washed their feet. This act of service was a precursor to the greatest act of service of all: His death on the cross. We saw that the amount of humility it took to kneel and wash the feet of the disciples was unparalleled. The Creator of the Universe humbled himself in order to do the job of a servant. He interrupted the meal, donned the garb of a slave, and washed the feet of his disciples. If that act wasn’t astounding enough, he even washed the feet of the one who was to betray him: Judas Iscariot. 

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52. To Know God

Chapter 14 begins in the middle of where Christ is speaking to his disciples after Judas had left. Peter had told Jesus that there was no way that he would betray him! Jesus tells Peter that he would, in fact, betray him. We have to think about the mood in the room. Jesus had just washed the disciples feet, spoke of one who would betray him, and then Judas leaves the room. Jesus shifts in his teaching and begins to speak of how they must act after he has gone. The disciples would have been confused and maybe a bit scared. This was not the ending they were hoping for. They expected a victorious messiah, not someone who would die and leave them behind. Imagine giving up everything, home and family, to follow who you thought would be the victorious messiah who would bring a new kingdom, only to find out that he was going to die a horrible death and be humiliated as a political criminal. The disciples would have been troubled.

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53. The Son of God

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54. How Do We Obey?

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55. The Spirit of Truth

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56. Holy Spirit the Helper

This week we jump back in to Jesus’ encouraging discourse to the disciples about the Holy Spirit, His work, and Christ’s upcoming death and resurrection. Jesus and the disciples have left the upper room and are heading towards the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus is explaining to them the coming of the Holy Spirit and how he is going to bring peace and empower them to love God and keep his commandments. This section is one of the most iconic in John’s gospel. Jesus talks at length about the Holy Spirit and what it means to abide in Him.

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57. Love One Another

John 15 continues on with Jesus reiterating the importance of loving obedience to God as followers of Him. John connects abiding in Jesus with obedience and a fruit-bearing life. The need for us to abide in Christ and to rely on Him as our source of life is made clear in this section. We cannot live the Christian life on our own nor are we able to bear good fruit without the empowering work of the Holy Spirit. This empowerment comes through cultivation of a relationship with Jesus. We often make the mistake of starting with obedience when we seek a relationship with Christ. Obedience is a natural outworking of relationship with Jesus. We will only become more and more frustrated when we rely on our own strength to obey. Christ calls us to first abide in Him, to be in relationship with him. He calls us to draw our strength from Him rather than from our own meager reserves. This abiding will empower us to display God’s love through our obedience. We must start with intimacy with the Lord which leads to our obedience rather than simply obeying because we have to.

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58. The Conviction of the Spirit

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Stewardship

From songs to movie stars to the daily grind, money is an important part of our lives. We obsess over movie stars with money. We respect the billionaire businessman and envy his lifestyle. Money is front and center in our culture. Even in our own lives, money can drive us. We get up early each morning to sit in traffic to spend time with people we don’t necessarily like to make money. We do this because we know that money allows us to survive. We need money to pay the bills, to put food on the table, and to enjoy our lives. Money in and of itself is not a bad thing, but the problem with money is that it’s an easy god to worship.

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The Joy of Giving

Last week, we learned about the importance of being a good steward of what the Lord has given us and how that impacts every area of our lives. Since God owns everything and has given us every good gift to enjoy and use for His glory, we ought to use the gifts he’s given us to bless others and glorify him. We are stewards of what God has given us; we are not owners of it. This radically transforms the way we see our money. This week we will explore what God says specifically about giving. 

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The Resurrection - Easter 2017

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Good Friday Teaching - Easter 2017

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