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Archive for March, 2011

  1. There are many who profess to know Christ who are mistaken. What evidences do you have that you have been given life by God?
  2. What does it mean for a person to love God? In what ways do you see true biblical love toward God demonstrated in your life? Do you see true biblical love toward God in the lives of your wife and each of your children?
  3. How does your wife feel about your commitment to pastoring?
  4. Why do you believe God wants you in the pastorate?
  5. Closely examine each of the Bible’s qualifications for pastors and deacons (1 Tim. 3; Titus 1:5-9; Acts 6:1-6; 1 Pet. 5:1-4). Which are you strongest qualities? With which requirements do you have the most trouble? Why do you believe these areas of difficulty do not presently disqualify you from ministering? (Note the phrase “must be” in 1 Tim. 3:2.)
  6. A pastor is charged by God to preach to the church and to shepherd the people in a more individual way. Which aspect of the ministry appeals to you the most? What are some specific ways you could be helped to develop your skills in either of these areas?
  7. What are your methods for involving yourself in the lives of your people as their shepherd and overseer of their souls?
  8. What activities characterize your evangelistic interest? What is your approach to personal evangelism? corporate evangelism?
  9. What is your approach to counseling? How do you handle your counseling load?

10. What are your specific and regular practices regarding the spiritual disciplines (e.g., personal prayer, Bible study, meditation, stewardship, learning, etc.)?

11. How would you describe a successful pastor? How would you describe a successful church?

12. How is the pastor held accountable? What relationships in your life currently provide accountability for responsible attitudes and behavior, both personally and as pastor?

13. Who are your favorite Christian writers, commentators, theologians, etc.? Why? What books have you read in the past year?

14. Describe an instance when you made attempts to reform the church in some significant area. What were the results? What did it cost you personally?

15. Describe your leadership style. What have been some weaknesses? Strengths?

16. When you have met with opposition, has it been mostly related to your style of leadership, your personality, your beliefs, or something else?

17. According to your observations, what doctrines need special emphasis in our day?

18. What is true biblical repentance?

19. What is true biblical faith?

20. Explain justification by faith. What is the difference between the Catholic view of justification and the biblical view?

21. Please explain your view of sanctification. What are the various means God uses to sanctify the believer?

22. Can a person have Christ as his Savior without submitting to Him as Lord? Explain.

23. What is your position on the inerrancy of Scripture?

24. Explain the biblical term “baptism of the Spirit.” When does this baptism occur?

25. What are your views on baptism by water?

26. How does the Bible relate the sovereignty of God to salvation?

27. What does the Bible teach about the extent of man’s depravity?

28. What does Christ’s atonement accomplish?

29. What does the Bible teach about the perseverance and preservation of believers?

30. What is the proper use of the Old Testament law?

31. How do you articulate your present view of end-time or eschatological issues?

32. Do you believe that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin? What is the significance of your belief?

33. What is your interpretation of the biblical teaching on Hell?

34. Do you believe that the events described in Genesis 1-11 are factual or symbolic?

35. What does the Bible teach concerning spiritual gifts? Please delineate your views about prophecy and speaking in tongues.

36. What is your view of divorce and remarriage? How strictly will you follow this view in practice?

37. What is your view of the phrase, “The bishop [pastor] then must be…the husband of one wife” (1 Tim. 3:2)?

38. What are your requirements for performing a marriage ceremony?

39. Please explain your views on church discipline. Relate any personal experience.

40. How would you handle a case of scandal or immorality by a church member?

41. What is your view on abortion?

42. Many children who appear to be converted at an early age show no evidence of knowing Christ later. How do you handle children when they come to you for counsel concerning conversion? What is your advice to parents?

43. What is a useful plan for receiving new members into the church? What are prerequisites?

44. What are your views on styles of church music?

45. Who should direct the worship of the church? Why? Which methods of leading corporate worship are appropriate? Which are inappropriate?

46. What does the Bible teach is the purpose of the church’s weekly gathering?

47. What are your views regarding raising money for various projects within the church? Should the church solicit those outside the church?

48. What are your convictions about the local church and debt?

49. What does the Bible teach about women in pastoral ministry?

50. What does the Bible teach about how churches should make decisions?

51. How should a pastor and his church relate to other churches locally and (if denominational) to the larger body? Do you feel comfortable cooperating with other denominations? Do you draw any lines?

52. What are the biblical responsibilities of elders? Are there any distinctions between elders, pastors, and overseers? If applicable, what distinctions exist between staff and non-staff pastors?

53. What are the biblical responsibilities of deacons? How are deacons and elders to relate?

54. What emphasis do you give to the leadership of fathers with their families, especially in terms of family worship? Do you personally engage in family worship with your wife and children?

55. What is your missionary vision for the church? How are you currently demonstrating missionary interest and involvement?

 

Jim Elliff and Don Whitney

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Seven Tactics of Temptation:

  1. Satan especially likes to tempt us when our faith is fresh, i.e., when the Christian is only recently converted and thus less prepared to know how to resist his seductive suggestions.
  2. Satan especially likes to tempt us when our faith feels strongest, i.e., when we think we are invulnerable to sin. If we are convinced that we have it under control, we become less diligent.
  3. Satan especially likes to tempt us when we are in an alien environment.
  4. Satan also likes to tempt us when our faith is being tested in the fires of affliction. When we are tired, burnt out, persecuted, feeling excluded and ignored, Satan makes his play. His most common tactic is to suggest that God isn’t fair, that he is treating us unjustly, from which platform Satan then launches his seductive appeal that we need no longer obey. 
  5. Satan especially likes to tempt us immediately following both spiritual highs and spiritual lows. Periods of emotional elation and physical prosperity can sometimes lead to complacency, pride, and a false sense of security. When they do, we’re easy targets for the enemy’s arrows. 
  6. Perhaps Satan’s most effective tactic in tempting us is to put his thoughts into our minds and then blame us for having them.
  7. A related tactic of temptation is for him to launch his accusations as if they were from the Holy Spirit. In other words, he couches his terms and chooses his opportunities in such a way that we might easily mistake his voice for that of God.

 

-Sam Storms
Tactics of Temptation, November 8, 2006, www.enjoyinggodministries.com.

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Listen to a discussion about eternal security and you’ll eventually hear this question: “Are you saying that since we’re secure as Christians, we can do whatever we want to?” It’s the “once saved, always saved” idea that says, once you are saved, you’re saved no matter how you may behave.

But the question really misunderstands the biblical teaching about our sin and God’s grace in our lives.

Pursuing Godliness

Christians have struggled over the years with the best way to deal with sin in their lives. That struggle has produced unbiblical doctrines that promise to “aid” Christians along with their own endeavors to obtain personal godliness.

Perhaps you have encountered some of them. One of the more notorious false doctrines is perfectionism. It’s the belief that we can obtain perfect sinlessness in this life. In his book, The Vanishing Conscience, John MacArthur describes the dangers of Christian perfectionism,

Church history is littered with examples of sects and factions who taught various versions of Christian perfectionism. Nearly all these groups have either made utter shipwreck of the faith or been forced to modify their perfectionism to accommodate human imperfection. Every perfectionist inevitably comes face-to-face with clear and abundant empirical evidence that the residue of sin remains in the flesh and troubles even the most spiritual Christians throughout their earthly lives. In order to hang onto perfectionist doctrine, they must redefine sin or diminish the standard of holiness. Too often they do this at the expense of their own consciences. (The Vanishing Conscience, 127)

I have met a few perfectionists in the past. What I have noticed about their teaching is how they relegate sinfulness to only outward behaviors. One perfectionist I spoke with believed as long as he never physically committed adultery, he wasn’t in sin. Thinking about adultery didn’t count as being sinful in his book. I reminded him of Matthew 5:27, 28 – looking upon a woman to lust is adultery – but he cleverly dismissed the passage as irrelevant.

I quickly discovered similar groups of Christians like the perfectionists. Rather than “dumbing” sin down, they submitted themselves to outward, legalistic codes to obtain godliness. If they failed to keep those codes perfectly, they believed their salvation was in jeopardy.

These errant views of holiness spring from a misunderstanding of the biblical teaching on sanctification.

The Sanctifying Spirit
Sanctification is a process by which the Holy Spirit works in believers to gradually move them toward Christlikeness (2 Cor. 3:18). Take note of the word gradually in this definition: The Holy Spirit is gradually moving us toward Christlikeness; it is not an instantaneous work that makes us perfectly sinless. In Christian theology, the idea of the Holy Spirit gradually moving us to Christlikeness is called progressive sanctification. Our godliness is progressive, over a life-time of following Jesus.

The apostle Paul provides a concise description of our sanctification in Romans 6. He does not specifically use the word sanctification in this chapter, but he certainly outlines the concept.

For example, he writes in Romans 6:2 “How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” And in 6:6, “Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.” And in 6:11, “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

There are a handful of thoughts we can glean from Romans 6 that help us understand the doctrine of sanctification and answer our question, “Does being a Christian mean we can live anyway we want?” Let’s open our Bibles and look at a few theological points.

First, notice in verses 4 and 5 how Paul describes our relationship with Jesus as identified with His death and “made alive” in His resurrection. That is a reference to our regeneration we discussed in my previous article. God’s divine handiwork imparts a principle of new life in our lives.

Second, in verses 6 and 7, Paul is saying that we now have the power to obey God – a power we never had apart from Christ. Paul writes we have our “body of sin done away with.” The original word in that phrase can have the idea of made inoperative or rendered powerless.

When we were apart from Christ, we had neither a desire nor a willingness to obey God. We were “slaves to sin,” as it says in Romans 6:20. The effort we put forth to be righteous ultimately ended in failure because of our enslavement to sin’s power. Now that we are identified with Christ, sin’s power no longer holds dominion over us. We can now pursue righteousness!

Third, we are never made perfectly sinless, but we do gradually grow in righteousness with a daily life of obedience. In this respect, we put forth cooperative effort with the Spirit, but our cooperation flows out of a changed heart with new desires to obey God.

Paul exhorts us to godly obedience by telling us to present the members of our body as instruments of righteousness (Romans 6:13). His words speak to our whole person both inwardly and outwardly – our thought life, emotions and attitude, as well as our behavior when we interact with the world. For example, we turn our thought life to dwelling upon the Lord, our hands to serving God and others, and our lips to praising God and edifying His people.

Now, does this mean we automatically know how to think and act in a godly way in everything? No. We still carry a lot of baggage from our lives before Christ, and the worse we lived as sinners, the more baggage we will need to unpack. That’s why our sanctification is progressive. In Romans 12:2, Titus 3:5, and Colossians 3:10, the Bible describes that work as our renewing process – our spiritual renovation retraining our minds to think like Christians.

The Beginning of a Good Work
So is Paul saying in Romans 6 that if we are saved, we can live anyway we want? The “once saved, always saved” idea? If you look closely at Romans 6:1, Paul is in fact answering that very objection. Do we continue in sin so grace may abound? In other words, “Paul, are you saying since we are saved, we are always secure, no matter what we do?” Paul answers emphatically, No!

His entire argument rests on the fact that our salvation begins and ends with God. He saves us, and then He sanctifies us.

I can imagine someone at this point thinking, “But I struggle a lot with sin.” John MacArthur has an expression I have heard him say often, “Godliness may not be the perfection of your life, but it is the direction of your life.” Our battle with sin will be a lifelong endeavor.

We may struggle for years with leftover sin and experience those occasional setbacks in our walk with Christ. But let us lay hold of a promise Paul wrote in Philippians 1:6: “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.”

Fred Butler
Volunteer Ministries Coordinator

http://www.gty.org/Blog/B110328

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“He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5)

Several times in the Scriptures the Lord hath said this. He has often repeated it to make our assurance doubly sure. Let us never harbor a doubt about it. In itself the promise is specially emphatic. In the Greek it has five negatives, each one definitely shutting out the possibility of the Lord’s ever leaving one of His people so that he can justly feel forsaken of his God. This priceless Scripture does not promise us exemption from trouble, but it does secure us against desertion. We may be called to traverse strange ways, but we shall always have our Lord’s company, assistance, and provision. We need not covet money, for we shall always have our God, and God is better than gold; His favor is better than fortune.

 

We ought surely to be content with such things as we have, for he who has God has more than all the world besides. What can we have beyond the Infinite? What more can we desire than almighty Goodness. 

 

Come, my heart; if God says He will never leave thee nor forsake thee, be thou much in prayer for grace that thou mayest never leave thy Lord, nor even for a moment forsake His ways.

 

 

-C.H. Spurgeon

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The Character of God:

The Holiness of God
Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You cannot look on wickedness with favor. Habakuk 1:13

But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. Isaiah 59:2

 

The Justice of God
For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness; the upright will behold His face. Psalm 11:7
But the LORD of hosts will be exalted in judgment, and the holy God will show Himself holy in righteousness. Isaiah 5:16

God is a righteous judge, and a God who has indignation every day. If a man does not repent, He will sharpen His sword; He has bent His bow and made it ready. Psalm 7:11-12

 

The Depravity & Condemnation of Man
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment Isaiah 64:6

For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ACCURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM. Galatians 3:10

 

The Great Dilemma
He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD. Proverbs 17:15

Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly? Genesis 18:25

 

God’s Action
While maintaining His holiness and justice, the Bible also affirms that God is love, and that in love He has responded to the plight of man.

 

Motivated by Love
God is love. By this the love of God is manifested in us, that God sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:8-10

 

The Cross of Christ
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Romans 3:23-26

 

The Resurrection
He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification. Romans 4:25

 

Man’s Response
Repentance begins with a recognition and confession that what God says about us is true that we have sinned.

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge. Psalm 51:3-4

A genuine recognition of our sinfulness and guilt will also lead to genuine sorrow, shame and even hatred for what we have done.

For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. Romans 7:15

Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from this body of death? Romans 7:24

Apparent sincerity of confession alone is never definite evidence of genuine repentance. It must be accompanied by a turning away from sin.

Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil. Isaiah 1:16

therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Matthew 3:10

 

Faith Defined
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. Romans 4:21

 

Faith Based on The Promises of God
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16

Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved Acts 16:31

 

Example of a Believer
worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh Philippians 3:3

 

The Basis of Genuine Assurance
True conversion: A true Christian is a new creation and will live a life that reflects God’s radical work of re-creation in his/her life. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? Matthew 7:16

Assurance is based upon self-examination in the light of Scripture. Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you unless indeed you fail the test? 2 Corinthians 13:5

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:13

 

Test of Biblical Assurance
1 John 1:5-7 (Walking in the Light), 1 John 1:8-10 (Confession of Sin), 1 John 2:3-4 (Obedience), 1 John 2:9-11 (Love for the Brethren), 1 John 2:15-17 (Hatred for the World), 1 John 2:24-25 (Perseverance in Doctrine), 1 John 3:10 (Righteousness), 1 John 4:13 (Spirit’s Testimony), Hebrews 12:5-8 (Discipline)

 

From Heartcry Missionary

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Unceasing, incessant prayer is essential to the vitality of your relationship to the Lord and your ability to function in the world. But exactly what does it mean to pray without ceasing?

The first time someone hears about the concept of praying without ceasing it may conjure up the image of Christians walking around with their hands folded, heads bowed, and eyes closed, bumping into things. While certain postures and specific times set aside for prayer have an important bearing on our communication with God, to “pray at all times” obviously does not mean we are to pray in formal or noticeable ways every waking moment. And it does not mean you’re supposed to devote yourself to reciting ritualistic patterns and forms of prayer.

To “pray without ceasing” refers to recurring prayer, not nonstop talking. Prayer is to be a way of life — you’re to be continually in an attitude of prayer. It is living in continual God-consciousness, where everything you see and experience becomes a kind of prayer, lived in deep awareness of and surrender to Him. It should be instant and intimate communication — not unlike that which we enjoy with our best friend.

To “pray without ceasing” means when you are tempted, you hold the temptation before God and ask for His help. When you experience something good and beautiful, you immediately thank the Lord for it. When you see evil around you, you ask God to make it right and to use you toward that end, if that is His will. When you meet someone who does not know Christ, you pray for God to draw that person to Himself and to use you to be a faithful witness. When you encounter trouble, you turn to God as your Deliverer.

Thus life becomes a continually ascending prayer: all life’s thoughts, deeds, and circumstances become an opportunity to commune with your Heavenly Father. In that way you constantly set your mind “on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2).

(Today’s post is adapted from John MacArthurs book “Alone With God “[Victor, 1995], pp. 15-17)

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He has never failed you

Children of God… will you not bear witness, that, through all your trials and troubles, the faithfulness of your Savior’s love has been the “very joy of your hearts?” You have had many crosses and losses – has He ever deserted you? You have been in severe afflictions, and have seen the flowers of many a “sweet hope” wither and decay – did your Friend desert you then? Others may have proved faithless – all other help may have failed you – friendship’s help, promised help, expected help – all, all may have been but as the foam upon the billow, as the footsteps in the sand – but, has Christ ever failed you? Could you, in the darkest and the saddest hour of your grief, say to Him? “Lord, You have promised what You did not perform.” Will you not bear witness concerning the past? – “Not one good thing has failed, of all that the Lord has promised – all has come to pass.”

 

 John MacDuff (The Throne of Grace)

via www.thegracetabernacle.org

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