Sunday, December 31, 2017

Praise God And Thank Him: Biblical Keys For A Joyful Life - Introduction





The Church of Divine Guidance Sunday Morning Adult Bible Study Group is going through the book Praise God and Thank Him: Biblical Keys for a Joyful Life by Jeff Cavins. The Bible holds many keys for living a joyful life, and praise and thanksgiving are two of the most powerful. Biblical praise can transform any difficulty and lead to a deeper trust in God.Thanksgiving—the attitude of gratitude—is a natural expression of praising God we should incorporate it into our lives.  Study along with us by getting a copy of the book by clicking this LINK or the image of the book at the end of the study notes.  You can also hear the audio of each session of the study by clicking on the YouTube Thumbnail  


Psalm 150:1-6 (NKJV)1 Praise the LORD! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty firmament!2 Praise Him for His mighty acts; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!3 Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet; Praise Him with the lute and harp!4 Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!5 Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with clashing cymbals!6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!

God commands us to praise Him, and we do that by saying praiseworthy things about Him.

What is praise?


Webster defines the word praise as to say good things about and it is synonymous to words such as admire, commend, extol, honor, and worship. A definition of Christian praise is the joyful thanking and adoring of God, the celebration of His goodness and grace.1 This simply implies that the act of praising is rightfully due to God alone.

From the Holman Bible Dictionary


Praise comes from a Latin word meaning “value” or “price.” Thus, to give praise to God is to proclaim His merit or worth. Many terms are used to express this in the Bible, including “glory,” “blessing,” “thanksgiving,” and “hallelujah,” the last named being a transliteration of the Hebrew for “Praise the Lord.” The Hebrew title of the book of Psalms (“Praises”) comes from the same root as “hallelujah” and Psalm 113-118 have been specially designated the “Hallel” (“praise”) psalms.

While the Bible contains frequent injunctions for people to praise God, there are also occasional warnings about the quality of this praise. Praise is to originate in the heart and not become mere outward show

Matthew 15:8 (NKJV)8 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.

Praise is also firmly linked to an individual's everyday life

Amos 5:21-24 (NKJV)21 "I hate, I despise your feast days, And I do not savor your sacred assemblies.22 Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them, Nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings.23 Take away from Me the noise of your songs, For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments.24 But let justice run down like water, And righteousness like a mighty stream.

One Hebrew word for “praise” is yadah, meaning “praise, give thanks, or confess.” A second word often translated “praise” in the Old Testament is zamar, “sing praise.” A third word translated “praise” is halal (the root of hallelujah), meaning “to praise, honor, or commend.” All three terms contain the idea of giving thanks and honor to one who is worthy of praise.

God is the Object of our Praise


In the Bible God who is the object of praise. The entire creation is to praise Him from the angels;

Psalm 103:20 (NKJV)20 Bless the LORD, you His angels, Who excel in strength, who do His word, Heeding the voice of His word.

Revelation 5:11-12 (NKJV)11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands,12 saying with a loud voice: "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!"

All creatures and inanimate things praise Him;


Psalm 19:1-4 (NKJV)1 The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.2 Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge.3 There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard.4 Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun,

Psalm 148:10-13 (NKJV)10 Beasts and all cattle; Creeping things and flying fowl;11 Kings of the earth and all peoples; Princes and all judges of the earth;12 Both young men and maidens; Old men and children.13 Let them praise the name of the LORD, For His name alone is exalted; His glory is above the earth and heaven.

Revelation 5:13 (NKJV)13 And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: "Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!"

Isaiah 55:12 (NKJV)12 "For you shall go out with joy, And be led out with peace; The mountains and the hills Shall break forth into singing before you, And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Luke 19:40 (NKJV)40 But He answered and said to them, "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out."

Man the crowning jewel of creation is to praise Him;


While the Bible tell us about the angels, the creatures, the rocks, it is primarily concerned with the praises offered to God by man.

Psalm 117:1-2 (NKJV)1 Praise the LORD, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!2 For His merciful kindness is great toward us, And the truth of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD!

Isaiah 25:1 (NKJV)1 O LORD, You are my God. I will exalt You, I will praise Your name, For You have done wonderful things; Your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.

Jeremiah 20:13 (NKJV)13 Sing to the LORD! Praise the LORD! For He has delivered the life of the poor From the hand of evildoers.

Luke 18:43 (NKJV) And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

Praising God is not a feeling. Praise is conscious admiration and thanks for who God is and what He does. It is an act of the will to praise Him by thoughtfully celebrating His goodness, His greatness, His majesty, His love, His grace, His mighty deeds on our behalf.

Why Should We Praise God ?


Praise gets the focus off yourself and puts it on God. We praise Him because;

 ● He’s worthy

Psalm 96:4 (NKJV)
4 For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods.


Psalm 145:3 (NKJV)3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; And His greatness is unsearchable.

2 Samuel 22:4 (NKJV) I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.

Revelation 4:11 (NKJV)11 "You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created."


● He’s full of glory

Psalm 138:5 (NKJV)5 Yes, they shall sing of the ways of the LORD, For great is the glory of the LORD.


● He’s great

Psalm 145:3 (NKJV)3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; And His greatness is unsearchable.


● He’s wise and powerful

Daniel 2:20 (NKJV) Daniel answered and said: "Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His.


● He’s good

Psalm 107:8 (NKJV)
8 Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!


● He’s merciful and faithful

Psalm 89:1 (NKJV)
1 I will sing of the mercies of the LORD forever; With my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations.


● He saves


Psalm 18:46 (NKJV)46 The LORD lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let the God of my salvation be exalted.


● He keeps His promises

1 Kings 8:56 (NKJV)56 "Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. There has not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised through His servant Moses.


● He pardons sin


Psalm 103:1-3 (NKJV)1 Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:3 Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,

To try to list all reasons to praise God is impossible, let’s just say we should praise God because of who He is and what He’s done. Making a list is an excellent idea because it puts our focus on Him and takes it off us. It reminds us of how much we owe to Him.


Ways to Praise God


The list of ways to praise God is also endless...singing songs and hymns, clapping our hands, even jumping for joy etc. We can praise God with the use of our physical limbs, our hearts and minds, and our deeds. Although there are many way to praise God, they should all result in acknowledgement of His power, love and grace.


● Praise Him with Sacrifice

Before Jesus became the last sacrifice required for the forgiveness of sin the offering of sacrifices was a way to praise God.

Leviticus 7:13 (NKJV)13 Besides the cakes, as his offering he shall offer leavened bread with the sacrifice of thanksgiving of his peace offering.

Romans 12:1 (NKJV) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

● Praise Him with movement (dance)

2 Samuel 6:14 (NKJV) Then David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod.

● Praise Him with silence and meditation

Psalm 77:11-12 (NKJV)11 I will remember the works of the LORD; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.12 I will also meditate on all Your work, And talk of Your deeds.

● Praise Him with testimony

Psalm 66:16 (NKJV)16 Come and hear, all you who fear God, And I will declare what He has done for my soul.

● Praise Him with prayer

Philippians 4:6 (NKJV) Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

● Praise Him with your life

1 Peter 1:3-9 (NKJV)3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,9 receiving the end of your faith--the salvation of your souls.

● Praise Him with music

Often praise is associated to music, whether structured Praise and Worship, personal quiet time, or spontaneous outbursts of thanksgiving.

2 Chronicles 29:30 (NKJV) Moreover King Hezekiah and the leaders commanded the Levites to sing praise to the LORD with the words of David and of Asaph the seer. So they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshiped.

Colossians 3:16 (NKJV)
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

Exodus 15:1 (NKJV)1 Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the LORD, and spoke, saying: "I will sing to the LORD, For He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!

Judges 5:1-3 (NKJV)1 Then Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam sang on that day, saying:2 "When leaders lead in Israel, When the people willingly offer themselves, Bless the LORD!3 "Hear, O kings! Give ear, O princes! I, even I, will sing to the LORD; I will sing praise to the LORD God of Israel.

A Life of Praise


Everyone, well almost everyone, agrees that praise is good. When we’re happy we praise God but, when we’re not happy we don’t praise….. we pray. I say we should do both. We don’t feel any responsibility to praise God when things aren’t going good. We think that praise is just a response to what happens. Not true.

Philippians 4:4 (NKJV)
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

Praise is not what happens afterwards it’s what goes on before. Praise is the engine that causes everything else to move.

Remember Paul and Silas?

Acts 16:22-26 (NKJV)22 Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods.23 And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely.24 Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.25 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed.

Your faith in God is enhanced with praise. Praise affects you, and it affects God.

Psalm 22:3 (KJV)3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

Praise touches everything and every part of your life. A lack of praise affects you in a negative way because remember praise takes the focus off you and places it on God. Lives that are not constant with praise and thanksgiving are not spiritually healthy.

Praise is not the thing that comes when everything's going right in our lives; it is the driving force. When we start praising God in the middle of our problems, our problems become so small that we hardly remember them at all, they become an afterthought in the wake of our praise.

When you live a life of praise it’s who you are and what you do.

We are going to start our studies in 2018 with the book. Praise God and Thank Him: Biblical Keys To A Joyous Life. by Jeff Cavins.


The Bible holds many keys for living a joyful life, and praise and thanksgiving are two of the most powerful. In this book Jeff Cavins explains what biblical praise is and how it can transform any difficulty and lead to a deeper trust in God. He shows how thanksgiving—the attitude of gratitude—is a natural expression of praising God, and he provides practical tips for incorporating it into your life.


The pattern in Scripture is consistent. When faced with difficulty, people responded in a specific way for success. To be victorious, they responded with praise.

Hebrews 13:8 tells us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.


Back in the 1970s, Merlin Carothers wrote a book called Power in Praise. He used the example of driving a car without power steering. Without power steering, the steering wheel is hard to turn, but with it, it’s a breeze.

Carothers compared this to praising vs. complaining. He said praise is like power steering—once you begin to praise, things get easier. If you just sit and complain, everything is harder.


By Actively praising God and giving him thanks, our hearts will find rest. St. Teresa of Avila said this:

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing away:
God never changes

There Will Always Be Problems


One thing is certain: Life will never be problem free. Look at what happens in the world on any given week—wars, terrorist attacks, government shutdowns, natural disasters, horrific accidents, violent crime. Individuals are faced with job loss, serious illness, and family tragedies. Problems are a fact of life.

When people are faced with obstacles or problems, they might respond positively, or they might respond negatively, or they might choose to do nothing. But they will respond. Some deny that the problem exists. Others run away from their problems. Still others look for someone else to blame.


In the Bible there are those who choose to respond positively to devastating situations: Job is just one example.

Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face. Job 13:15 NIV

I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. Job 19:25 NIV

There are also examples of those who responded negatively to their situations: King Saul

Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in his own town of Ramah. Saul had expelled the mediums and spiritists from the land. The Philistines assembled and came and set up camp at Shunem, while Saul gathered all Israel and set up camp at Gilboa. When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart. He inquired of the Lord , but the Lord did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets. Saul then said to his attendants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her.” “There is one in Endor,” they said. So Saul disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and at night he and two men went to the woman. “Consult a spirit for me,” he said, “and bring up for me the one I name.” 1 Samuel 28:3‭-‬8 NIV


Judas

Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over. Matthew 26:14‭-‬16 NIV


It’s not a question of if we are going to respond, but how we respond to our problems and obstacles that will determine whether we are successful in our walk with God or whether we will become even more frustrated with the difficulties that we face.


The Best Response


There are plenty of inferior ways to respond to problems and handle the stress in your life.


You can respond by yelling or by throwing something. You might turn to alcohol or become addicted to social media and the Internet. But we want to learn God’s prescribed way of dealing with difficulties which is praise and thanksgiving. Our study will teach us how to respond to difficulties in a way that changes both you and your circumstances. in order for him to act in your life, some things are required of you. First and foremost is your cooperation.

The prophet Hosea said; Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain salvation upon you. (Hosea 10:12)

If You Feel Hopeless…


No matter what the difficulty is, know this: God is with you and wants to be active in the details of your life. He knows your situation and wants to go through it with you. He doesn't want you to go through it alone.

God has something greater than the answers you hear in the world. Today, on television, radio, print media, and the Internet, we are faced with a plethora of life coaches, mentors, pop psychologists, all purporting to solve our challenges and bring us peace and prosperity. Too often, though, all of these various experts lack the power to follow through on their own advice. In the end, they offer simplistic solutions to complex problems.


Praise is creating space in your life for God to do what you are hoping and dreaming he will do. Always remember: With God, nothing is impossible. All things are possible!

Bible Study Audio



Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Grace




In December 2014 The Church of Divine Guidance (CDG) Sunday morning adult bible study group started a study series on Grace. God's grace (favor) is indeed a reason for praise because it was by His grace we are saved. In anticipation of CDG's 2018 Year of Praise the group revisited the session of that study in which we discussed the forms of God's grace. These are the notes to today's session.


Ephesians 2:8-9 (HCSB)8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—9 not from works, so that no one can boast.


Definition: 
  • unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification 
  • a virtue coming from God 
  • disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency 



The word grace is used in the Old Testament 39 times in the King James Version. King James Version uses for the Hebrew word ḥēn (pronounced khane)

The Greek word that’s usGrace is in the English translations in the New Testament between 118 times in the Revised Standard Version to 131 times in the King James. ed most in the New Testament and translated grace is charis (pronounced cars). 

The reason that it’s mentioned so much more in the New Testament is:



The Old Testament or old covenant was a covenant of law whereby in order to be justified by God you had to obey the law to the letter in other words you had to work gain favor or grace. That was done away with when Jesus gave His life as a sacrifice for mankind and his blood sealed a new covenant. That covenant came into effect after Jesus was sacrificed and He presented His blood in heaven to atone for the sins of those who accept that sacrifice as being made for them. 


Hebrews 9:11-14 (HCSB)11 But the Messiah has appeared, high priest of the good things that have come. In the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands (that is, not of this creation),12 He entered the most holy place once for all, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow, sprinkling those who are defiled, sanctify for the purification of the flesh,14 how much more will the blood of the Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to serve the living God? 


Introduction

God’s grace may be most difficult thing for our natural minds to really understand. We all understand the law. It’s pretty simple really it says “do this” and “don’t do that”. You don’t even need to be a Christian to understand that and many ‘good, law abiding, unsaved people’ will tell you that. In fact they will often point to things that Christians do which are against the Mosaic law and say I’m better than that. Everybody understands the law but we can’t keep it. So when we say that we are saved God’s grace through faith it takes more than the natural mind to understand it. We can’t understand, with our natural minds, why a righteous would allow His Son, who was able to keep the entire law, be punished in the place of those who could not keep it. 


1 Corinthians 2:14 (NKJV) But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 

Grace takes many forms in the Bible

Common grace

The kindness or favor God give to all mankind believer or not. 


Matthew 5:44-45 (NKJV)44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.


Acts 14:16-17 (NKJV)16 who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways.17 Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness." 


He grants grace also in delaying judgement on mankind giving them a chance to accept His gift of eternal life.


2 Peter 3:9 (NKJV) The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 


Saving grace

The provision of salvation through Jesus


Romans 1:5 (HCSB) We have received grace and apostleship through Him to bring about the obedience of faith among all the nations, on behalf of His name, 


Romans 3:24 (HCSB) They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. 


Romans 5:2 (HCSB) We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 


Romans 5:15-17 (HCSB)15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if by the one man’s trespass the many died, how much more have the grace of God and the gift overflowed to the many by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ.16 And the gift is not like the one man’s sin, because from one sin came the judgment, resulting in condemnation, but from many trespasses came the gift, resulting in justification.17 Since by the one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive the overflow of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. 


Securing grace

The favor of God by which the Christian's salvation is kept secure in spite of sin.


John 10:27-29 (NKJV)27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand.


John 3:16 (NKJV) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 


Philippians 1:6 (NKJV) being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; 


Ephesians 2:8 (NKJV) For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 


I could go on and on but as you have often heard me say, you didn’t have anything to do with your salvation. You are saved by the grace of God by and through faith, so there is nothing you can do to “un-save” yourself. Salvation is obtained and maintained by grace alone.


Sanctifying grace



Sanctifying grace works within the true believer causing them to grow and mature and progress becoming more Christ-like. If you remember from our Winning the War Against Worry study God is working, through His grace to conform us the the image of His Son Jesus. 


Romans 8:28 (NKJV) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 


1 Corinthians 15:10 (NKJV) But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 


2 Peter 3:18 (NKJV) but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. 


Serving grace

Are the Spiritual Gifts that believers have been given by the Holy Spirit. Remember I said, last week that the Greek word translated grace charis (pronounced cars) is the root of the word charisma which is the word Paul used for spiritual gifts. 


Serving grace enables us to minister in a way that we manifest the life of Jesus as members of His body, the church. 


Ephesians 4:7 (NKJV) But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. 


1 Peter 4:10 (NKJV) As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 


Sustaining grace



Grace given at special times of need, especially during adversity or suffering.


2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV) And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 


Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV) Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 


James 4:6 (NKJV) But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble." 


In Conclusion 

God’s grace is manifested in a variety of ways. Grace seeks us and saves us; grace keeps us secure; grace enables us to serve and to endure the tests and trials of life. Grace will bring about our sanctification in this life and will ultimately bring us to glory. From beginning to end we are the object of divine grace.


Bible Study Audio


Sunday, December 17, 2017

Christian Atheist - Session 8 - Review



The Church of Divine Guidance Sunday Morning Adult Bible Study Group is going through the book The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel.  A Christian Atheist is someone who believes in God but lives as if He doesn't exist.  If you are courageous enough to admit that sometimes you act like a Christian Atheist maybe along with us we can shed some of our hypocrisy and live a life that truly brings glory to Christ.  To hear the audio of the study group session click on the YouTube Thumbnail 

To get your copy of the book click this LINK or the image of the book at the end of my notes for the study.  

We started with the definition of a Christian definition of the word “Christian” is a person who is a believer in Jesus and His teachings. The definition of the word “atheist” is a person who disbelieve or lacks belief In the existence of God or gods. So Gregson definition of a “Christian Atheist” is a person who believes in the existence God but acts like He doesn’t exist. 

One characteristic is the hypocrisy of coming to worship on Sunday, Bible studies, prayer meetings, and leave and act like we never heard what we sang or read or said Amen to it's like,

James 1:22‭-‬24 (NIV) Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

Three levels of knowing God


Level 1: I believe in God, but I don’t know him


Level 2: I believe in God, but I don’t know him well.

Galatians 4:8‭-‬9 (NIV) Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces ? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?

Level 3: I believe in God, know him intimately, and serve him wholeheartedly.

Example: David is described as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14).

1 Samuel 13:14 (NIV) But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”

Acts 13:22 (NIV) After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’

Psalm 63:1-4 (HCSB)1 God, You are my God; I eagerly seek You. I thirst for You; my body faints for You in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water.2 So I gaze on You in the sanctuary to see Your strength and Your glory.3 My lips will glorify You because Your faithful love is better than life.4 So I will praise You as long as I live; at Your name, I will lift up my hands.

When You Believe In God But Don’t Really Know Him

A Christian Atheist might sound like someone who’s got a faith problem or perhaps at least a spiritual confusion issue. But the core problem for the Christian Atheist Isn't belief; it’s intimacy. The Christian Atheist doesn’t really know God very well.

It says in our book that “A recent Gallup poll reported that 94 percent of Americans claim to believe in God or a universal spirit. However, a quick glance at Scripture and our culture makes it plainly obvious that nowhere near 94 percent actually know God. I mean, really know him—intimately.

Belief isn’t the same as personal knowledge. What you call God often reveals how well you know him.

What are some of the things or names we call God?

  • Father 
  • Savior 
  • Lord 
  • Provider 
  • Shepherd 

Knowing God requires more of us than simply believing God exists


You believe there is one God. That’s good, but even the demons believe that! And they shake with fear.
James 2:19 ERV

And it requires more of us than dutiful adherence to Christian rules

Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “ Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces ? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.
Galatians 4:6‭-‬11 NIV

Knowing God requires loving obedience, an obedience that comes from the heart.

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
John 14:23‭-‬24 NIV

“If you love me, keep my commands.
John 14:15 NIV

Believing In God But Don't Think He Loves You

One of the first Bible verses many Christians memorize is all about love: “For God So loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). It’s a foundational truth every new believer claims, but one that Christian Atheists sometimes struggle to fully embrace.

It's one thing to hear this with our ears, and another to understand it with our hearts.

A belief in God does not automatically result in the belief—the genuine heart conviction—that God loves us.

Oddly, our disbelief doesn’t necessarily question whether God can or does love people. Christian Atheists can easily believe that God loves other people; they just can’t comprehend how or why he’d love them. We hide our real selves from other people so they won’t reject us. So we try to hide the real us from God. We feel that there’s just no way God could love someone as undeserving and evil as I am.

One of the questions that Christian Atheists ask is Why would God love someone as bad as me?

Another question is How could God love someone so insignificant?

It isn’t only our sense of guilt that prevents us from believing that God loves us—sometimes it is a simple sense of insignificance. Six billion people inhabit this planet; how could God love us all?

Christian Atheists believe in God and even believe that God loves people, but always other people, who are less sinful or more important.

To truly overcome this feeling, we must understand who God is. According to 1 John4:8-10, God is love.

1 John 4:8-10 (NLT)8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

That means God doesn’t pick and choose whom he loves—he can’t! God is love, and we are loved, every single one of us six billion sinful, undeserving people.

Love is not something God does. It is who God is. And because of who he is, God loves you. Period. There is nothing you can do to make God love you more. And there is nothing you can do to make God love you less.

Benefits of God’s love

His love covers our sin Titus 3:4-5 (NLT)4 But—“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love,5 he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.

His love makes us significant. you to myself. Luke 15:1-10 (NLT)1 Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach.2 This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with the3 So Jesus told them this story:4 “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it?5 And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders.6 When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’7 In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it?9 And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’10 In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.

God loved us first. Before we were even aware of God’s existence, God already loved us.

There’s nothing we can do to earn God’s love. We are already and always loved simply because God made us and he loves each and every one of his creations. There’s nothing we can do to get God to love us more, and there’s nothing we can do to cause God to love us less.

In Romans 8:35 – 39, the apostle Paul offered a list of things that cannot separate us from the love of Christ: trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword, death, life, angels, demons, the present, the future, any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:35‭-‬39 NIV

When You Believe In God But Don't Think He's Fair

There are those times when life doesn’t make sense, when all our expectations are shattered, and we wonder, we doubt, we question, we wrestle with this God who refuses to conform to who we want Him to be.

Who is this God?

He isn’t the God we’ve expected Him to be? Life doesn’t turn out as we expect. God doesn’t turn out as we expect. We need to explain to Him the type of God He’s supposed to be. Sounds silly when we say it that way. But when our expectations are broken, we often look at God as if something’s wrong with Him. We lose faith because He hasn’t lived up to our expectations, He hasn’t conformed to our image of Him, He hasn’t acted according to our ideas of what’s right and good.

God explodes expectations.

He does not conform to our view, but instead He conforms us to His.

He is the God who breaks all expectations, who shatters preconceptions, who wants nothing more than to blow apart my ideas of who He is and replace them with a true vision of who He really is.

He is the God who calls us to leave our expectations at the door and come in to sit at His feet.

Three things to remember when you don’t understand something about God:

1. We don’t deserve good things.

Romans 6:23 (NKJV)23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If you think you’re good, Jesus didn’t come for you

Mark 2:13-17 (NKJV)13 Then He went out again by the sea; and all the multitude came to Him, and He taught them.14 As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, "Follow Me." So he arose and followed Him.15 Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi's house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him.16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, "How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?"17 When Jesus heard it, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."

We are not good in the eyes of God

Romans 3:10-12 (NKJV)10 As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one;11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God.12 They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one."

Romans 6:23 (NKJV)23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

2. Good things happen to bad people.

It’s a good thing God is not fair because then he would give us what we deserve Instead, he gives us grace. God does not treat us as our sins deserve

Psalm 103:10-12 (NKJV)10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities.11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

3. God is present in your pain.

When you hurt, your heavenly Father hurts with you and longs to comfort you

Isaiah 49:13 (NKJV)13 Sing, O heavens! Be joyful, O earth! And break out in singing, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people, And will have mercy on His afflicted.

God isn’t fair. He doesn’t give us what our sins deserve. He is higher. He is working in all things to bring about good.

When You Believe in God but Don’t Think You Can Change

Identifying the Lie

Many Christian Atheists live year after year under the illusion that we simply can’t change. Once we’ve forgiven ourselves for past mistakes, some surrender to present problems, never even hoping to overcome them. We may openly, even proudly, believe in God, but we honestly don’t believe he can change us. Christian Atheists who’ve tried to change and failed, wrongly believe that God simply can’t change them.

The first step is often the most difficult, and That’s admitting that there is a problem. Too many Christian Atheists won’t acknowledge their problem in the first place. If we won’t admit our problems, we can’t change.

Admitting our problems is only the first step. After that, we must invite God to work,
because he is the one who can change any problem. Nothing is impossible with God.

Mark 10:24‭-‬27 NIV The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

With people, change maybe difficult, even impossible—but not with God. God is bigger than our problems, no matter what they are. If you’ve believed that you simply can’t change, acknowledge that that is a lie. With God, all things are possible.

Can the Excuses

Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
John 5:1‭-‬3‭, ‬6‭-‬7 NIV

This hurting man was offered the opportunity to see God’s power. But he had grown so accustomed to his condition that he was focused on all the reasons he’d never get better.

If you have any excuses talking you out of changing, capture those wrong thoughts and replace them with truth.

2 Corinthians 10:3‭-‬5 NIV For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Grab any thought contrary to God’s, overtake it, and replace it with truth. Remind yourself that you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength

Philippians 4:13 (HCSB)13 I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Surrender to God’s power

If you believe you can’t change, you’re right—sort of. Your strength is limited. Your willpower isn’t bottomless. Your determination will eventually run dry. That’s why to change for good you need the power of the only one who is good—Christ!

Colossians 1:28‭-‬29 NIV He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

When You Believe in God but Still Worry All the Time

For Christian Atheists, our worry proves we don’t trust in God as we claim to. We think,
I know God’s a good God and all that, but I’ve got this situation handled. And when it turns out we don’t have it handled, then it falls to us—not to God—to fix it.

Worry is the opposite of faith; therefore, it’s sin.

But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
Romans 14:23 NIV
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6 NIV

Then we live by faith, we believe that God has everything under control. But if we start to worry, how we live says the opposite. If we are worried about losing our jobs, we are essentially saying that our jobs are our providers. But isn’t God our provider? What if God has something else planned for us? And what if, as unpleasant as it may be to think about, the path to that “something else” is through some pain? Will we still trust in God to provide during that time?

Worry, in essence, is the sin of distrusting the promises and the power of God. It's choosing to dwell on, to think about, the worst-case scenario. It’s faith in the bad things rather than faith in God. Second Timothy 1:7 says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (NLT). In this verse, you could also easily translate “fear and timidity” as “anxiety, tension, and worry.” Fear doesn’t come from God. It’s a tool the evil one uses to distract us from our true purpose here.

In Matthew 6:25, Jesus says, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink;
or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” The Greek word Jesus uses for “life” is psuche (SUE-kay). It doesn’t just mean your breathing life, the force that makes your body go. It actually means every aspect of your life, taken together in total: mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual. It means your yesterday, today, and future life. Jesus is simply saying don’t worry about anything.

No Matter What Happens, Trust God

Who do we believe in more? Ourselves or God? Our actions and decisions will reflect that.

If God does what you think he should do, trust him. If God doesn’t do what you think he should do, trust him. If you pray and believe God for a miracle and he does it, trust him. If your worst nightmare comes true, believe he is sovereign. Believe he is good.

In Matthew 6:33 – 34, Jesus says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Godis outside of time. He has no beginning, and no end. That means he has no yesterday and no tomorrow. He just is. So for God, tomorrow is the same as today, same as yesterday.

Was God in control yesterday? Undoubtedly, yes. Is God in control today? You know he is. Then he’s in control tomorrow too.

Even if the future God chooses for you isn’t the one you would choose, trust him.

When You Believe In God But Don’t Want To Go Overboard

When You Believe In God But Don’t Share Your Faith

Many of us, and this includes me, are reluctant to share our faith with others. There may be many reasons; we don’t think the time is right; we don’t know what to say; the other person doesn’t want to listen, etc. If we somehow feel that the Holy Spirit wants us to share our faith with someone, whether we know them or not, I think that He has somehow prepared the person or the circumstance for us to talk to them. Remember what Jesus said to His disciples.

Matthew 10:19-20 (NLT)19 When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time.20 For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

What we have to remember is that if we don’t share our faith it may be the last opportunity for that person.

We Should Always Be Ready To Share Our Faith

1 Peter 3:15 (NLT) Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.

Maybe you can relate. You’d like to be ready for anything, but you’re afraid you might choke under pressure. So to be prepared.

Preparation—studying and thinking about what you’ll say—will give you confidence. Not every chance to share will be set up for you. But no matter who starts the conversation, if you engage enough people, you’re going to be amazed how many of them are genuinely hungry to hear the truth from an honest, caring heart.

When You Believe In God But Not In His Church

Many Christian Atheists don’t really believe in the church.

There are lots of Christians that say they don’t do church. They don’t do church for various reasons. They had a bad experience with a church member, or pastor, they fell for a false teaching and got hurt, they don’t see any difference in church goers and people who don’t go or are not even believers, they think they can read the bible and gain as much knowledge by themselves as if they went to church every week. Church repulses them because they feel it’s full of hypocrites.

Other people accept that people are hypocrites by nature; they just can’t stand churches talking about money.

Even if they can get past those issues, still others steer clear because church is irrelevant to their everyday lives. They tried church before, and it didn’t make a difference. Why bother?

Maybe they even want to attend church, but when they do, they feel even guiltier than they did before. The pastor and all the other put-together, perfect people just make them feel worse about themselves.

Finally, there a the “super spiritual”. Their ideals are so high that no church can possibly meet their standards. They have detailed lists of what’s wrong with each church in town. The worship music isn’t “Spirit-led” enough, or it’s too loud, too soft, or too whatever. The sermons are too shallow or too intellectual. The missions program isn’t aggressive enough or it’s all the church talks about. They spend too much money on the building or not enough. Churches, with their mere mortals, can never measure up.

Here’s The Key, Don’t Go To Church Be The Church

To many people, church is a place. It’s a building, bricks and mortar, a destination. We know that God isn’t confined to a church building or only available at certain times of day. So we don’t have to wait until we come to church or a certain time of day to worship Him. We don’t even have to wait until we feel spiritual. If we are delighting ourselves in Him we can be confident of His presence all the time.

Matthew 22:36-40 (NLT)36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment.39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Church allows you to do both and the church needs every believer.

Romans 12:4-5 (NLT)4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function,5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other

1 Corinthians 12:12-20 (NLT)12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part.15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body.16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body?17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part!20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body.

A Place to Belong

While the church meets physical needs, it also provides a place for us to belong. A Barna poll revealed that 92 percent of Americans claim to be independent. Though Independence is a goal for many, God never intended for his believers to be independent.

A Place to Believe

In addition to belonging, church also gives us a place to grow spiritually. Romans10:17 says, “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” Our faith grows as we hear God’s Word taught and proclaimed. Living out what we've heard solidifies it for us. James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

Many Christian Atheists hesitate to join a church because they don’t think there's any way God would work through them and their imperfections. But the Bible says differently


When Jesus called his first followers, he recruited tax collectors, uneducated fishermen, and dangerous revolutionaries. Notice who Jesus did not call: not one rabbi, scribe, or priest. Not one Pharisee or Sadducee, nor any other person from the formal religious establishment of the day. When he chose friends, Jesus surrounded himself with the lonely, the broken, and the overlooked. God is calling you to be a part of his church, to be his church.

If we’re not overboard for him, then chances are we don’t really know him.

It’s time to seek him. It’s time to surrender everything. It’s time to let go of everything in this world.

“Whatever it takes” became my heart’s cry. Whatever it takes to know him. Whatever It takes to live like I truly love God. Whatever it takes to love eternity more than this world. Even if I have to fight, scrape, and crawl away from my Christian Atheism Into a genuine, crucified life of faith and radical obedience to Christ, I’ll do whatever it takes. - The Christian Atheist, page 235

Wholly surrendered. Those are beautiful, nourishing words for a God-hungry heart. They mark the beginning of a journey from life as it is to life as it could be. A life of knowing God and allowing yourself to be known by him. Of walking through hardships and loss steadying the hope that God is out to do you only good. Of experiencing the deep love of Christ every day. Of discovering God’s trustworthy provision when you put him in charge of your money and your happiness. These are the kinds of things that lead to the life that is truly life. And isn’t that what you really want? If so, it’s time to jumpship from Christian Atheism and go completely overboard — take a flying leap of white-hot faith and let the God who loves you catch you.

Bible Study Audio


Monday, December 11, 2017

Christian Atheist - Session 7 - When You Believe In God But Don’t Want To Go Overboard



The Church of Divine Guidance Sunday Morning Adult Bible Study Group is going through the book The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel.  A Christian Atheist is someone who believes in God but lives as if He doesn't exist.  If you are courageous enough to admit that sometimes you act like a Christian Atheist maybe along with us we can shed some of our hypocrisy and live a life that truly brings glory to Christ.  To hear the audio of the study group session click on the YouTube Thumbnail 

To get your copy of the book click this LINK or the image of the book at the end of my notes for the study.  

When You Believe In God But Don’t Share Your Faith

Many of us, and this includes me, are reluctant to share our faith with others. There may be many reasons; we don’t think the time is right; we don’t know what to say; the other person doesn’t want to listen, etc. If we somehow feel that the Holy Spirit wants us to share our faith with someone, whether we know them or not, I think that He has somehow prepared the person or the circumstance for us to talk to them. Remember what Jesus said to His disciples.

Matthew 10:19-20 (NLT)
19 When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time.20 For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

What we have to remember is that if we don’t share our faith it may be the last opportunity for that person. Plus the bible says something we should remember. Minister Brenda is always talking about a person's blood being on our hands if we don’t warn them about disobedience and not acknowledging Jesus is the one sin that is unforgivable. Here’s where she gets that;

Ezekiel 3:17-19 (NLT)17 “Son of man, I have appointed you as a watchman for Israel. Whenever you receive a message from me, warn people immediately.18 If I warn the wicked, saying, ‘You are under the penalty of death,’ but you fail to deliver the warning, they will die in their sins. And I will hold you responsible for their deaths.19 If you warn them and they refuse to repent and keep on sinning, they will die in their sins. But you will have saved yourself because you obeyed me.

There’s the example in the book about Craig going to see the man at the request of his wife to share the gospel in the hope that he would accept Jesus and receive salvation before his death which was imminent. It’s at the very beginning of Chapter 11. Craig didn’t want to appear pushy because the guy was an unbeliever so he never broached the subject. Feeling guilty later he went back the next day and the guy had died.

Like many of us he looked for the perfect moment to share. That moment didn’t come for this guy and it may not for people that we know or people that we come into contact with.

The Great Commission is really a command to Jesus’ disciples to evangelize.

Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT)18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

The word evangelism comes from the Greek word euangelizo, which means “to proclaim or share the good news.” Our modern word gospel comes from the Old English word gôdspel. In Old English, gôd with a long “o” meant “good,” and spell meant “word.” So sharing the gospel meant sharing the good word or good news of Christ.

Yet for those who don’t believe in Christ, gospel sharing, or evangelism, often arouses skepticism, resentment, fear, or anger. The reputation of some televangelists and some street corner preachers may be the reason for this. For many self-proclaimed Christians, these words often induce feelings of fear and guilt. Christian Atheists know they should share their faith, but largely because of the strong emotions associated with it, they usually don’t.

Craig said something that I found to be very interesting. He said that in his opinion one of the main reasons that Christians don’t share their faith is that they don’t really believe in hell. His thought is that if we really believed in hell we wouldn’t want anybody to go there and we would do everything that we could to keep them from going.

He points to research that shows that while almost three out of four people believe in heaven, less than half believe in hell.

I wrote a post about hell not too long ago; Hell..What, Where, Who Has Been There. Here is some of what I wrote:

The experience of being in hell is like being constantly burned.

Matthew 18:9 (NLT)9 And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.

Mark 9:43, 45, 47-48 (NLT)43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand than to go into the unquenchable fires of hell with two hands.45 If your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one foot than to be thrown into hell with two feet. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out. It’s better to enter the Kingdom of God with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell,48 ‘where the maggots never die and the fire never goes out.’

Hell is compared to darkness.

Matthew 22:13 (NLT) Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Hell is associated with tremendous grief.

Matthew 8:12 (NLT) But many Israelites—those for whom the Kingdom was prepared—will be thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

It is also associated with great horror.

Mark 9:44 (NKJV) where 'Their worm does not die, And the fire is not quenched.'

What the Bible does make clear is that hell is real, eternal, and to be avoided at all costs

We Should Always Be Ready To Share Our Faith

The apostle Peter says,

1 Peter 3:15 (NLT) Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.

Maybe you can relate. You’d like to be ready for anything, but you’re afraid you might choke under pressure. So to be prepared.

Preparation—studying and thinking about what you’ll say—will give you confidence. Not every chance to share will be set up for you. But no matter who starts the conversation, if you engage enough people, you’re going to be amazed how many of them are genuinely hungry to hear the truth from an honest, caring heart.

Now while I do believe that we all should evangelize I also believe that some people have a spiritual gift to evangelize and others do not have that gift.

The divine enablement to effectively communicate the message of Christ to unbelievers who respond in faith and discipleship.

Characteristics: This term literal means "messenger of good news". They have a strong desire to communicate the message of salvation to a lost world. A person with this gift often looks and prays for opportunities to work Christ into the conversation. They are regularly "harvesting" lost souls for the kingdom. An evangelist isn't concerned with imparting deep spiritual truths as the teacher is, but they are motivated to help people understand and respond to the basic biblical messages. The Holy Spirit flows out of them in a way that convicts people of their sins. Excuses for inactivity and indecisiveness are exposed by the light of the Spirit. Evangelists are active individual's motivating others to act. They are exciting to be around, like quick results, big crowds, fast change and are constantly moving.

Those of us who don’t have the gift should still be ready to share our faith. That sounds good but when we get the opportunity most of the time we don’t know where to start. Most of us are not as knowledgeable as Philip when he talked to the eunuch.

Acts 8:34-38 (NLT)34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, was the prophet talking about himself or someone else?”35 So beginning with this same Scripture, Philip told him the Good News about Jesus.36 As they rode along, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look! There’s some water! Why can’t I be baptized?”38 He ordered the carriage to stop, and they went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.

So tell your own story but be prepared. Know what you want to say and how you want to say it. You may even want to practice it. In my opinion the best way to share your faith is by your life. Live in a way that people want to know what makes you tick. Then when they ask share your story and your faith.


When You Believe In God But Not In His Church

When we have been successful in sharing our faith the next thing that we should want to do is make sure that that person is discipled or taught the ways of the Lord and the place that is the church. Yes we are all the church including the new believer but I’m talking about the institution, the vehicle that God uses to deliver the gospel to the world and equipment its members to deliver it.

Many Christian Atheists don’t really believe in the church.


There are lots of Christians that say they don’t do church. They don’t do church for various reasons. They had a bad experience with a church member, or pastor, they fell for a false teaching and got hurt, they don’t see any difference in church goers and people who don’t go or are not even believers, they think they can read the bible and gain as much knowledge by themselve as if they went to church every week. Church repulses them because they feel it’s full of hypocrites.

Other people accept that people are hypocrites by nature; they just can’t stand churches talking about money.

Even if they can get past those issues, still others steer clear because church is irrelevant to their everyday lives. They tried church before, and it didn’t make a difference. Why bother?

Maybe they even want to attend church, but when they do, they feel even guiltier than they did before. The pastor and all the other put-together, perfect people just make them feel worse about themselves.

We talked about that in our study of the book “Overwhelmed: Winning The War Against Worry, more than three years ago.

In the church there has been a prohibition of talking about certain things or not expressing our feelings when we are hurting is certain areas like money or sex we often putting lipstick on a pig so to speak. We are masking how we sometimes hurt so we don’t get help. I use to hear some old time preachers and old time mothers talking about the church being a hospital well if you can’t talk about your sickness what kind of hospital is it. Is it only one that deals with the common cold or a stubbed toe and not drug addiction or sex addiction, or depression?

If you can’t bring your deepest problems to the church because you are afraid of what others may say as Noble says in the section The Problem with Church World where people have to pretend that “..there lives are picture-perfect”. There are two problems that result. 1) the issues or problems will sooner or later come out and either they will result is gossip or the leadership will tell them not to come back until the problem is handled or 2) then can’t take the pressure of trying to put up a false face for the church so they drop out.

“When we meet Christ, we are saved from the penalty of sin, but we do not escape the effects of sin --whether that’s our own sin of other people’s sin or simply the broken world we live in. Church is the place where we need to go for healing not the place to pretend that we’re perfect. It shouldn’t be the place we run from when we feel overwhelmed it should be the place we run to. That is where Jesus will meet us and change us.

Finally, there a the “super spiritual”. Their ideals are so high that no church can possibly meet their standards. They have detailed lists of what’s wrong with each church in town. The worship music isn’t “Spirit-led” enough, or it’s too loud, too soft, or too whatever. The sermons are too shallow or too intellectual. The missions program isn’t aggressive enough or it’s all the church talks about. They spend too much money on the building or not enough. Churches, with their mere mortals, can never measure up.

I talked about these people in my sermon on worshiping in spirit and truth. I said worship isn’t about you anyway. It’s about carving out time in our busy lives and responding to who God is and what He’s done for us. It’s about a deep, inner spirit response. Worship doesn’t always mean singing at the top of your lungs, or dancing or shouting. It’s about just entering into His presence and your response to that.

Here’s what God wants in worship.

Isaiah 1:16‭-‬17 NIV Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.

Hosea 6:6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings

Micah 6:8 NIV He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

In other words we are to be completely devoted to him and compassionate toward others, not just giving lip service and empty sacrifices. God wants people to actually to know him, not just know about him while ignoring what God considers important which is obedience and love. Living a life of obedience and love is what worship is not just going through the motions: outwardly sacrificing and saying the right things, yet inwardly remaining far from God.

Here’s the thinking of a lot of Christians today. Who needs church anyway? We can get all the Christian content we need from websites, podcasts, and books—even television and radio.


Here’s The Key, Don’t Go To Church Be The Church

To many people, church is a place. It’s a building, bricks and mortar, a destination. This is from my sermon too.

We know that God isn’t confined to a church building or only available at certain times of day. So we don’t have to wait until we come to church or a certain time of day to worship Him. We don’t even have to wait until we feel spiritual. If we are delighting ourselves in Him we can be confident of His presence all the time.

Psalm 139 says that God's presence can be wherever are.

Psalm 139:1‭-‬10 NIV You have searched me, Lord , and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord , know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

The church is actually God’s chosen vehicle to meet—through other human beings—people's true needs (including our own).

Matthew 22:36-40 (NLT)36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment.39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Church allows you to do both and the church needs every believer. The analogy that Paul uses is that the church is like a body that needs every part.

Romans 12:4-8 (NLT)4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function,5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you.7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well.8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

1 Corinthians 12:12-28 (NLT)12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part.15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body.16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body?17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part!20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body.21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary.23 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen,24 while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity.25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other.26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.28 Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church: first are apostles, second are prophets, third are teachers, then those who do miracles, those who have the gift of healing, those who can help others, those who have the gift of leadership, those who speak in unknown languages.

I always end my sermons on gifts with this;

If you are sitting on your gift then The Church is missing it like a part of the body missing a finger. It can’t function at the optimal level without that finger as small and insignificant as you might think it is it still keeps the body from functioning as God would have it.

Christian Atheists Are Also Lukewarm Christians And Christ Doesn’t Like Lukewarm Christians

Many so-called Christians are lukewarm. They want enough of Jesus to get them by, but not so much that they go overboard.

The church in Laodicea described in Revelation 3 is the prototype of lukewarm Christianity.

Revelation 3:15-19 (NLT)15 “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other!16 But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!17 You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.18 So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see.19 I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.

Lukewarm Christians …

1. Crave acceptance from people more than acceptance from God.

2. Rarely share their faith in Christ.

3. Do whatever it takes to alleviate their guilt.

4. Think more about life on earth than eternity in heaven.

5. Gauge their morality by comparing themselves to others.

6. Want to be saved from the penalty of sin without changing their lives.

7. Only turn to God when they’re in a bind or when they’re in trouble.

8. Give when it doesn’t impinge on their standard of living.

9. Are not much different from the rest of this world.

10. Want the benefits of what Christ did without conforming to who he is.

When we put God on the shelf and say, “I believe in you, but I don’t really need you right now,

Revelation 3:17-19 (NLT)17 You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.18 So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see.19 I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.


Extreme Church

Many Christian Atheists today commit only halfheartedly to Christ’s church—if at all.
He doesn’t want us simply to believe in God. He wants us to give our lives to him through his church. In the first church described in Acts 2, “church” wasn’t something people added to their lives. Church was the center of their lives. Church was not a physical building; it was the community of people who shared a belief and faith in Christ. Their extreme commitment to Christianity contrasts sharply with our attitude today: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). They didn’t go to church; they were the church, devoted to God’s Word, God’s people, and God’s mission.

“There were no needy persons among them.

For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need” (Acts 4:34 – 35). This is what happens when people stop going to church and start being the church, as Jesus intended. Every need in the church can be met by the church.

A Place to Belong

While the church meets physical needs, it also provides a place for us to belong. A Barna poll revealed that 92 percent of Americans claim to be independent. Though Independence is a goal for many, God never intended for his believers to be independent.

He wants us dependent on one another and on him. The apostle Paul writes, “So in Christ We who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Rom. 12:5). As believers in Christ, we are incomplete without the rest of his body—the church. And the church is incomplete without us. We need others, and others need us.

Belonging to a local church also provides accountability, where wiser and more mature Christians can regularly counsel us, mentor us, comfort us, and help us heal. We can confess to God for forgiveness (see 1 John 1:9), but that’s only half of the equation.

We also need to confess to other Christians to help us ultimately overcome our sinful habits. James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

According to Hebrews 10:24, we’re responsible both to hold each other accountable and to encourage one another: “Spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Verse25 tells us how: “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing.”

A Place to Believe

In addition to belonging, church also gives us a place to grow spiritually. Romans10:17 says, “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” Our faith grows as we hear God’s Word taught and proclaimed. Living out what we've heard solidifies it for us. James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

Our Father uses his church to minister to us, to draw us closer to him, and to equip us—these spiritual benefits aren’t just for us. God is transforming his church into extraordinary ministers. He calls us to change lives in our own communities and around the world.

God’s church continues to grow around the world because its people instinctively understand that the church exists not for them but for those who don’t yet know Christ. While the church at its best rarely makes headlines, itis changing lives—and the world—for good. It loves radically, serves sacrificially, and gives extravagantly.

Many Christian Atheists hesitate to join a church because they don’t think there's any way God would work through them and their imperfections. But the Bible says differently

When Jesus called his first followers, he recruited tax collectors, uneducated fishermen, and dangerous revolutionaries. Notice who Jesus did not call: not one rabbi, scribe, or priest. Not one Pharisee or Sadducee, nor any other person from the formal religious establishment of the day. When he chose friends, Jesus surrounded himself with the lonely, the broken, and the overlooked. God is calling you to be a part of his church, to be his church.

If we’re not overboard for him, then chances are we don’t really know him.

It’s time to seek him. It’s time to surrender everything. It’s time to let go of everything in this world.

In Mere Christianity, author C. S. Lewis writes about the problem with being a part-time Christian:

The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self— all your wishes and precautions—to Christ. We are all trying to let our mind and heart go their own way—centered on money or pleasure or ambition — and hoping, in spite of this, to behave honestly and chastelyand humbly. And that is exactly what Christ warned us you could not do.


Christ says “Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it…. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked — the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.”

When we are open to go wherever the Holy Spirit leads us, he will use us to share the greatest gift of all—eternal life through Christ. And when he does, we may never know on this side of eternity how much of a difference we made. But someday—on the other side—we’ll know in full.

WANTING MORE THAN ENOUGH OF JESUS

Christian Atheists have a lot in common with Goldilocks — we like things not too hot,
not too cold, but just right. Yet when it comes to living out our faith, what might feel “just right” to us is what God considers nauseatingly lukewarm. God doesn’t want tepid commitment or a moderate devotion. He doesn’t want us to settle for just-right just-enough or a just-so life in Christ. He wants everything we’ve got — fierce commitment, wholehearted passion, and a blazing heart of love.

Many so-called Christians are lukewarm…. They want enough of Jesus to keep them out of hell and enough to get into heaven, but not so much of Jesus that he transform their lives …. They want enough of Jesus to get them by, but not so much that they go overboard.

Most wouldn’t admit that this is all the faith they can manage. We want God’s benefits without changing how we live. We want his best, without our sacrifices.

Of the Christians in ancient Crete the apostle Paul wrote: “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfitfor doing anything good” (Titus 1:16). Paul’s letter to the preacher Titus addressed this problem in the church and emphasized the vital connection between belief and practice:

For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every Read the passage once more, this time in The Message:

God’s readiness to give and forgive is now public. Salvation’s available for everyone! We’re being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life. This new life is starting right now, and is wetting your appetites for the glorious day when our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, appears.

He offered himself as a sacrifice to free us from a dark, rebellious life into this good, pure life, making us a people he can be proud of, energetic in goodness (Titus 2:11 – 14 MSG).

“Whatever it takes” became my heart’s cry. Whatever it takes to know him. Whatever It takes to live like I truly love God. Whatever it takes to love eternity more than this world. Even if I have to fight, scrape, and crawl away from my Christian Atheism Into a genuine, crucified life of faith and radical obedience to Christ, I’ll do whatever it takes. - The Christian Atheist, page 235

Wholly surrendered. Those are beautiful, nourishing words for a God-hungry heart. They mark the beginning of a journey from life as it is to life as it could be. A life of knowing God and allowing yourself to be known by him. Of walking through hardships and loss steadying the hope that God is out to do you only good. Of experiencing the deep love of Christ every day. Of discovering God’s trustworthy provision when you put him in charge of your money and your happiness. These are the kinds of things that lead to the life that is truly life. And isn’t that what you really want? If so, it’s time to jump ship from Christian Atheism and go completely overboard — take a flying leap of white-hot faith and let the God who loves you catch you.

Welcome to true Christianity.

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