Sunday, November 23, 2014

Elders - choosing potential

I write as one who has preached among the Churches of Christ (non-instrument) for 65 years.  Rhoderick D. Ice

The Local Church Is A Work In Progress  

    The church must be forever "restoring and being restored."  The church of the New Testament set an example we try to follow.

    What does the Bible say about this?  The Bible is our Instruction Manual about what God wants us to do.  We ask: "What did God say?"  But we must read with care.  We may "read into" the Bible things not there and miss the point.  Compare 2 Cor. 3:14,17. "But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.... Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."

    “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Tim 1:7 (NKJV)

    "For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you-- "  Titus 1:5 (NKJV)

    To Set In order. Some things required time to complete. To appoint church elders. These were spiritual leaders in the local congregation, and there were always more than one. Compare 1 Tim. 3:1-7.  Note that the church at Ephesus had church elders in less than three years time (Acts 20:17). In every city. Each congregation had its own church elders and church deacons.  (R.D.Ice  BSNT)


    Church Elders are:

1. "Clerks watching the store while the Boss is away."

        Someone has to keep things running smoothly.

        Compare the Parable of Pounds.  "A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.  So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, 'Do business till I come.'"  Luke 19:13 (NKJV)


2. "Older brothers watching out for the younger children."         

        They need protection and guidance.  "Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you."  Hebrews 13:17 (NKJV)

3. "Not dictators but facilitators."  1 Peter 5:2-4.  "nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock;" (NKJV)

4. "Coaches urging and directing the team on to victory."

        Compare Hebrews 12:1 where Paul uses the Olympic Games as a teaching example.   "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,"   (NKJV)


The Top Ten Questions for Potential Elders    (adapted from an article in the Christian Standard.)

        A Church Leader must be one who LOVES THE LORD!  If he does not - nothing else would matter.

        There has been a Tradition that said no one is "perfect enough" to be a Church Leader.  But what happens then is that someone unqualified takes the control, often as a "church boss" in the worst sense.  What a person is NOW is most important.  Compare 1 Cor. 6:11.  The church in the New Testament appointed elders and deacons in a short time.  Being "full of the Holy Spirit" and of "common sense wisdom" and being respected in the local community is all vitally important.  Read Acts 6:1-6. 

        "Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood."  Acts 20:26-28 (NKJV)


"Now it's up to you overseers.

Be on your toes—both for yourselves

and your congregation of sheep.

The Holy Spirit has put you in charge

of these people—God's people they are—

to guard and protect them.

God Himself thought they were worth dying for.

Not bossily telling others what to do,

but tenderly showing them the way.

When God, who is the best Shepherd of all,

comes out in the open with His rule

He'll see that you've done it right

and commend you lavishly.


        The Jewish Synagogue as model.

        The synagogue was developed while Israel was held captive in Babylon.  Since they no longer  had access to the Temple, some form was needed for Bible study and worship.  This same form provided the pattern for the church as they spread across the first century world.  Church leaders (also called elders, bishops, pastors) were to take the lead in spiritual matters as a board of directors.  Church helpers (also called deacons, servants) were needed to administer to the physical needs of the congregation.  In the Christian Family, the whole person (body, soul, spirit) was encouraged to grow and to develop into a Christ-like maturity.  Paul speaks of church organization and body-life in Ephesians, 1 Timothy and Titus.


Eph. 4:11-16

And He filled earth with His gifts.

He handed out gifts of apostle,

prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher

to train Christians in skilled servant work,

working within Christ's body, the church,

until we're all moving

rhythmically and easily with each other

efficient and graceful

in response to God's Son,

fully mature adults, fully developed

within and without,

fully alive like Christ.


No prolonged infancies among us, please.

We'll not tolerate babes in the woods,

small children who are

an easy mark for impostors.

God wants us to grow up,

to know the whole truth and

tell it in love—like Christ in everything.

We take our lead from Christ,

who is the source of everything we do.

He keeps us in step with each other.

His very breath and blood

flow through us, nourishing us

so that we will grow up healthy

in God, robust in love.


1 Tim. 3:1-7

If anyone wants to provide leadership, good! 

But there are preconditions:

A leader must be well-thought-of,

committed to his wife,

cool and collected,

accessible, and hospitable.

He must know what he's talking about,

not be overfond of wine,

not pushy but gentle,

not thin-skinned and touchy,

not money-hungry.

He must handle his own affairs well,

attentive to his own children

and having their respect.

For if someone is unable to

handle his own affairs,

how can he take care of God's church? 

He must not be a new believer,

lest the position go to his head

and the Devil trip him up.

Outsiders must think well of him,

or else the Devil will figure out a way

to lure him into his trap.


1. Is this man committed to his wife and family?  One who dearly loves his wife and family will be able to dearly love God's People.  If he is mean and abusive to his wife and family - WATCH OUT!


2. Has this man shown wisdom in decision-making?   Does he have "common sense wisdom"?  Does he have a sense of psychology and how things work.


3. Has this man shown the ability to keep his temper in check?  Everyone has a 'temper' but we learn to control it.  Some are more controlled than others.  The man who will make a good elder will have a tough skin, a tender heart, a short memory, and a long fuse.


4. Is this man willing to be inconvenienced for others?  Will he go the "second mile"?


5. Is this man capable of teaching Scripture to others?  You are not simply looking for a man who knows how to say something, but rather a man who has something to say - something from God.


6. Has this man established wise personal habits?  If his life is disorganized confusion - WATCH OUT!

7. Does this man have a strong sense of stewardship?  The "one talent man" had no sense of stewardship.  He was fearful but not adventurist in a good sense.


8. Does this man have a track record of discipling leadership?  You're looking for a man who's got a track record of leading people closer to Jesus.


9. Has this man been a Christian long enough to maintain humility?  Paul says he must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited.  The chief occupational hazard of spiritual leadership is pride, and too much visibility too soon in a man's Christian pilgrimage can inflate his ego.


10. Is this man respected in the community? The first quality listed is "above reproach," literally meaning "not able to be held."  In other words, if charges were leveled against this man, he wouldn't even be held for questioning because his reputation is so solid.  He's Teflon, not Velcro.  His integrity is such that accusations just won't stick.   But this only comes with time.  However some reach it sooner because they are gifted.


A Final Word of Challenge

         “The local church is the hope of the world, and its future rests primarily in the hands of its leaders.” If it’s true that everything rises and falls with leadership, then as your congregation selects its elders, you’ll want to take a close look again at this picture of a spiritual leader in 1 Timothy 3:1-7. The work of the church is too critical, the stakes are too high, the consequences are too eternal for a congregation to choose its leaders hastily (1 Timothy 5:22). Choose poorly, and the church will miss opportunities to build the kingdom.


But if leaders are chosen wisely, the church will flourish. And when the church flourishes, the gospel is preached, the lost are found, souls are saved, sin is confronted, children are taught, marriages are mended, addictions are broken, the hungry are fed, the grieving are comforted, the lonely are embraced, the wounded are healed, the community is transformed, and the nations are reached with the good news of Christ.


When the leaders are at their best, the church will be at its best, and when the church is at its best, it is breathtaking to behold. Look out world!


A final reminder. Remember: this picture Paul provides in 1 Timothy 3 is a sketch, not a snapshot. As you search for leaders, you’re looking for a great resemblance, but you may not find an exact likeness.


Keep in mind that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Look for excellence in character, but apply these standards with grace. You can (and should) find men who have learned to sin less, but you will never find men who are SINLESS. (1 John 1:6-10; 2:1-3)


At the end of the day, the good news is this: everything rises and falls with One Leader – JESUS - and while we may fail, He never does.



Thursday, November 20, 2014


THANKSGIVING  Psalm 100:1-5: 107:1-3

    We love Him because He first loved us!

    1 John 4:10 "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He first loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins."

  “And be ye thankful.”

    1. Thank You, Jesus, for coming to earth to seek and to save me, even before I knew You.

    Jeremiah 31:3 "The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: 'Yes. I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you."

    2. Thank You, Jesus, for Your loving willingness to suffer and die for me and to grant me total forgivenes of my sins.

    Rev. 1:5 "And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness. the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood."

    3. Thank You, Jesus, for Your patience and grace when I fail, and that You always receive me and never condemn me.

    John 6:37 "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out."

    4. Thank You, Jesus, for Your gracious and tender ways, with Your abundant lovingkindness toward me.

    Isaiah 54:10 "For the mountains shall depart And the hills be removed, But My kindness shall not depart from you, Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed, Says the Lord, who has mercy on you."

    5. Thank You, Jesus, for Your love and Your wish to complete all that You plan for me.

    Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

    6. Thank You, Jesus, for your promise and faithfulness to keep and sustain me through pain and struggle.

    Isaiah 43:1-2 "But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you: And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.  For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior."

    7. Thank You, Jesus, for You understanding my weaknesses and bringing strength to my life.

    Isaiah 41:10 "Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed. for I am your God.   I will strengthen you, Yes, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand"

    Hebrews 4:15-16 "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the Throne of grace. that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

    8. Thank You, Jesus, for you are with me every day, always near and never forsaking me.

    Hebrews 13:5-6 Let your conduct be without covetousness, and be content with such things as you have.  For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' So we may boldly say. The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"'

    9. Thank You, Jesus, for You are preparing being a place for me to be with You forever.

    John 14:1-3 "Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also."

    10. Thank You, Jesus, for your assurance that until that Day, Your conquering love and power is mine, so that nothing of earth or hell can ever separate us.

    Romans 8:37-39 "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril. or sword? As it is written: 'For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.' Yet in all these things wc are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
                “Rejoice evermore!”

Prayers of Thanksgiving

Prayers of Thanksgiving

    “And they sang a new song with these words: “You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it.  For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.  And you have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth.”  Rev 5:9-10 (NLT)

    Yes, darkness is in our world today.  But God is shining His Light into our world. The Kingdom of God is growing every day thanks to those who show their faith without making any "noise", praying and living out their faith, in the family, at work, in the communities – the church is in the world. 

    1. Thankful for past blessings. 

    “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”

Col 1:13-14 (NKJV)

    “One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the Kingdom of God come?” Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God can’t be detected by visible signs. You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you.”  Luke 17:20-21 (NLT)

    The Kingdom of God was already being revealed through Jesus' words and actions.  Pentecost came with God’s Power.

    “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”  John 1:16-17 (NKJV)

    2. Jesus is Coming Again!

    “For as the lightning that flashes out of one part under heaven shines to the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His day. But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.”  Luke 17:24-25 (NKJV)

    "The day is coming when He will make noise, He will flash like lightning, lighting up the sky from one side to the other. So shall the Son of man be on His Day, the Day that He will make noise. And when one thinks of the perseverance of many Christians, who struggle to raise their family - men, women - who care for children, care for grandparents and arrive at the end of the month with only half a dollar, but who pray. There is the Kingdom of God, hidden, in the holiness of daily life, every day holiness. Because the Kingdom of God is not far from us, it is near! This is one of its features: God is close to us everyday.”

    3. Mustard-seed Christianity.

    “Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches." Matt 13:31-32 (NKJV)

    The Kingdom of God is humble, like the seed planted in the ground.  Humble, but it becomes great by the power of The Holy Spirit. We let it grow in us, without boasting about it.  Let The Spirit come, change our soul and carry us forward in silence, in peace, in tranquility, in closeness to God, to others, in worship of God, without display.

    4. We are growing and being transformed.

    “The only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves. Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you.  Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.”  2 Cor 3:2-3 (NLT)

    “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.  But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  2 Cor 3:17-18 (NKJV)

    Transforms us. Christians are new in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), and are transformed by their direct access to God. The Spirit is involved in this (2 Cor. 4:6); and none of this transformation was available through the old covenant.  

    “Until John the Baptist, the law of Moses and the messages of the prophets were your guides. But now the Good News of the Kingdom of God is preached, and everyone is eager to get in. Luke 16:16 (NLT)

The Jericho Method

The Jericho Method

    Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.” Psalms 127:1-2 (NKJV)

    “According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”  1 Cor 3:10-11 (NKJV)

    "Some books [or situations] cannot be taken by direct assault; they must be taken like Jericho." — Ortega
    “The city of Jericho fell to the Israelites after they marched all around the city many times over 7 days. Some things take time and patience.”

    “On the seventh day the Israelites got up at dawn and marched around the town as they had done before. But this time they went around the town seven times. The seventh time around, as the priests sounded the long blast on their horns, Joshua commanded the people, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the town! Jericho and everything in it must be completely destroyed as an offering to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and the others in her house will be spared, for she protected our spies.”  Joshua 6:17-18 (NLT)

    “The men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, mother, brothers, and all the other relatives who were with her. They moved her whole family to a safe place near the camp of Israel.”  Joshua 6:23

    “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.”  Heb 11:30-31

    1. How Jesus dealt with things.

    “One of the amusing parts of the Gospels is how Jesus responds to the questions of his opponents with another question. His enemies tried to put him in a box. He refused to cooperate. 
Recently, I had the same experience when a friend presented me with this very simple offer of choices: how can you believe in a good, all-powerful God in a world of suffering? Either a good, all-powerful God and no suffering. Or suffering without a good, all-powerful God.
    My response was to politely disagree with the framing of the issue. The mystery of evil in the world is not solvable by a simple binary, multiple-choice trap that is both simplistic and, frankly, crude.  The mystery of evil in the world is an issue that we can only approach through the Jericho Method. In other words, it is an issue that we must patiently circle around, hoping upon each circular pass to acquire some greater bit of insight and sensitivity that can shed some light on this mystery.
    Ultimately, the Christian response is this: the virtually naked Man hanging on the wooden instrument of torture used by the Romans on the lowest of the low in their social scale testifies that Christians--especially those who display crucifixes--do not at all skirt the issue of the suffering of the innocent. The Christian response to such suffering is to point out that God became Man in the form of a slave and voluntarily exposed Himself to unimaginable torture. So, to the mystery of evil, we must add the mystery of God becoming a victim. To that mystery, we must add other dimensions--the dimension of free will, which leads to bad choices; the dimension of the growth, maturity, and wisdom that suffering teaches; the dimension of the promise that God will ultimately set all things right.” [Pencil]

    2. Job charged not God foolishly.

    “Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord."  In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.”  Job 1:20-22

    Disasters strike the righteous as well as the unrighteous, generally.  But in Job's case he was the main objective.  God was not trying to destroy Job.  He was testing and perfecting him. 

    Peter wrote about God’s testing.  So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:6-7 (NLT)

    As Christians we can only reach our eternal home by passing through many afflictions and sorrows.  Christ IS Coming Again!  The dead WILL be Raised to Life!


Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me!

    In October “The Search For The Lord’s Way” had four lessons on “One God: Three Persons.”

    “When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, "You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased." Luke 3:21-22

    “Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two.  And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, "Father, 'into Your hands I commit My spirit.' " Having said this, He breathed His last.”

Luke 23:44-46

    We show forth the Lord’s death & resurrection.

    By the water of His baptism and the blood of His death (1 John 5:6-8; Heb. 9:11-15) JESUS became the Savior of every human being who would “trust & obey.” 

    We confess, in accordance with Holy Scripture and with the Holy Spirit’s help, that Jesus Christ is the one and only Savior of the world.  In Him, we see not only the fullness and the glory of God, but also the model and power for our own freedom from the bondage of sin and death (Hebrews 2:14-18).

    We repudiate teachings that repress, turn away from, or offer substitutes for the atoning death and life-giving resurrection of Jesus. We oppose any redefinition of the Christian faith that diminishes or eliminates the saving work of Jesus Christ in order to make dialogue with others more agreeable.  We reject any claim that regards the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection as merely one salvation among others.  According to the apostolic faith, such teachings are false and unfaithful to the Gospel.  [Matt. 16:15-17; Acts 4:12; Col. 2:6-10]

    In the midst of many competing voices, the Church seeks to hear, trust, and obey Jesus the Lord and his commandments      (1 Cor. 8:5-6).  True authority in the Church derives from and furthers obedience to this Lord.  True authority in the Church holds the community accountable to this Lord, especially when teachings and practices arise that undermine or deny His Lordship.

    Christianity is centered in Jesus! 

    Paul was willing to step back and put Christ first!

    “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”  Acts 26:18

    Jesus had to share completely our human nature and human experience.  Even though Jesus in the flesh was a man (a male), He was able to be the Savior of both men & women.  In contrast to angels, He was made like the seed of Abraham - likeness of sinful flesh (Rom. 8:3) - and He was tempted in every way that both men & women are tempted.  See Heb. 4:15; Isaiah 53:3-5.  His atoning sacrifice was for both men & women.   “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”  Galatians 3:28

    Jesus said: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die.”   John 12:32-33

    Jesus promised Another Helper.

    “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?  If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”  Luke 11:9-13

    “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter (Helper) will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.  And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:”   John 16:7-8



        We sing: “Revive us again, fill each heart with thy love, may each soul be rekindled with fire from above!”  Gospel Meetings bring righteousness, justice, and holiness – as Jesus is lifted up!  When a congregation experiences Renewal, certain things happen.  God in effect says: "By your faith, command Me."  We are to first act and then God will grant us Renewal!!!


        Renewal, Revival, and Spiritual Awakening make things happen.


        1. God comes down.  God is always with us, but we need to be reminded.  Renewal lifts up our eyes to The Holy One, mighty and majestic, who dwells among His people.  Like Isaiah in the temple we really see The Living God. 

        In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.”  Isaiah 6:1


        2. God's Word Comes Home.  In Renewal the Bible shows us Eternity. Christians find that this collection of Hebrew and Christian Scriptures is still God speaking to us and feeding our souls.

        Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  2 Tim 1:6-7

        Timothy had a special gift, but each of us has been given a talent, a gift with which we accomplish things.


        3. God's Purity Comes Through.  God uses His Word to renew consciences.  The perverseness, ugliness and guiltiness of sin are seen and felt with new clarity.  The depth of one's own sinfulness becomes obvious as never before.  So then forgiveness of sins becomes the most precious truth in God's promise to us!

        “...but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."  1 Peter 1:15-16


        4. God's People Come Alive.  Joyful assurance of salvation. Conscious communion with a Living savior.  A spirit of prayer and praise.  A readiness to share a life in common with other believers.  A love that reaches out to all in need.  These are characteristic marks of renewed Christians.  Old fears dissolve; and a new frankness in speech and action come to take their place.  The church at Ephesus (Rev. 2) was commanded to do this.  They needed to learn to love Jesus again and to do the first works.

        “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!  Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches.”  Rev 2:4-5 (NLT)


        5. Outsiders Come In.  The church is alive!  People are drawn by the moral and spiritual magnetism of what goes on in (among) the church.  People are not impressed by a "words only" gospel, but by transformed lives and the living community of Faith. 

        Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.” Acts 2:41


        6. Testing Renewal. We are to test all things.  Jesus is Lord. He came in the flesh.  He was tempted in every way that we are. He died on the cross.  He raised from death to life again!  He is coming again in power!

        a) Doctrinal  Does this Renewal produce a spirit that honors and praises the Christ of the Gospel?

        b) Ethical Does this Renewal produce character that is Christ-like?

        c) Holy Joy  Does this Renewal produce joy unspeakable and full of glory?  Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)