Favorite Verses

1. John 3:16

 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

2. John 14:6

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

3. Ephesians 2:8

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God...

4. 2nd Timothy 3:16

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousnes...

5. Matthew 11:28

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

 

 

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From the Pastor's Desk:

Suggested Scripture Reading: Romans chapter 6
When I was going to school in Ames, Iowa (Go Iowa State Cyclones!), I had a very religious Mormon friend, whom I took with me to the church I attended one Sunday. The sermon was about grace, and particularly focused on how we can do nothing to earn God’s favor. After worship, my friend was upset about the message. He wondered how the sermon would motivate anyone to good works if God loved them no matter what they did.
One of the objections people like my friend have had to the concept of freely given grace is that it could be misused to justify immoral behavior. After all, if God gives grace when people sin, why not sin more so God can grant more grace?
The apostle Paul brings up that very topic in his letter to the Romans.. Paul poses the question, “Shall we go on sinning so that grace might increase?” He then proceeds to answer the question in an unexpected way. Rather than go on about how bad sin is, or how misguided we are to beg the question, he responds in verse 2 by saying, “we died to sin - how can we live in it any longer?”
Paul brings up a supernatural reality - that the believer has died to sin. In this letter, Paul doesn’t say “you should try not to sin,” but rather “you are no longer a slave to sin.” This is a much different way of thinking about what God had done in our lives than some of us may be used to. As we see in this passage, God has given us a new identity.
I should emphasize, however, that this does not mean Christians will no longer sin or need to repent. If we claim to be sinless, we are lying. But this passage does say that sin no longer defines us. When we sin, we are not acting in accordance with who we have become in Christ, but rather behaving according to the habits of the “old self.” In verse 6, we are reminded that the shadow-self - the sinner - has been done away with, and we are no longer slaves to sin.
When we sin, we may be tempted to despair and think, “well, that’s just who I am.” But that mentality ignores the powerful work of God that has taken place within us. Because that is no longer who we are. We are living in a new reality - the reality of Christ’s salvation. God has freed us and changed us.
Being claimed by God in baptism is more than being drafted onto a team or enlisted into service. We are fundamentally different. The Scriptures tell us that in Christ, we are a new creation. For the one who has been saved, living in sin would be analogous to trying to live underwater or trying to breathe dirt. You can’t do it. The Spirit of Christ within you won’t allow it.
This change is not anything we have accomplished - it’s not anything we could have done on our own. We don’t boast in ourselves. We boast in a God who makes all things new.
So does this teaching gives us a license to sin? The sinner would seek to remain in sin - the sinner would be helpless to do otherwise. But the Christian seeks after God - the Christian has the license to love. And in Christ, we discover that we now have a freedom we didn’t used to have - and that is the freedom not to sin.
In His Grip,
Matthew

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