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Archive for February, 2008

I wanted to share the view from where I will be reading this afternoon at Jeanine’s parents’ house. It’s a beautiful day (a little cool), and this afternoon I will be sitting on this deck to read. You can just see the Azaleas in bloom to the right-our God is an awesome and creative God. Praise be to God!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Juan
Acts 20:24

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The Reign of Sin in Death & The Reign of Grace in Life through Christ

Genesis 4:1-6:8

This Sunday morning we will look at the spread of sin from Adam to all humanity, beginning with Adam’s first born – Cain. Very quickly, Moses, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, allows us to see how Adam’s sin polluted and corrupted his progeny. Genesis 4, reflects the fall times two. Whereas Adam was full of shame, guilt and fear, Cain seems to display a bravado before holy God.

Nevertheless, God is always faithful, and we will see how He maintains His promise of Genesis 3:15!

As you prepare for this Sunday morning, please read Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:42-49.

Consider how sin has affected not only all humanity but the creation as well.

In light of the doctrine of total depravity (I prefer the term radical corruption), how should we as Christians view culture. Remember that I have argued there is no such distinction as a sacred/secular dichotomy; there is only sacred and profane.

Can non-Christians contribute positively to culture? Should Christians engage culture or should we boycott culture? In other words, can and should Christians appreciate art, music, poetry, etc. created by non-Christians? Is it Christian to listen to “non-Christian” music, to view “non-Christian” art, etc.? Another way of putting it is, should Christians visit art galleries and attend the symphony or the theater or are these “worldly” entertainments?

These are some thoughts that I hope will help you prepare for this coming Sunday morning.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Juan

Acts 20:24
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Feb
28

Dental Update

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I’ve just finished my last dental appointment today! Jeanine’s dad did a great job!!! I’ve been able to eat after about a week of a liquid diet. Right now I’m at a Panera Bread in Gainesville, Florida sipping on a vanilla latte and taking advantage of their free wi-fi. Lord willing, I will be back in Austin by Friday afternoon.

I’ve had a very good week. It’s been nice to read and study and research in the quietness of Jeanine’s parent’s home. I only turned on the tv for a couple of hours at night to catch up on the news cycle.

I look forward to being back with my High Pointe family this Lord’s day!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Juan
Acts 20:24

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So far in our study of Genesis titled, “Origins” we have noted that God Has no origin; He is eternal. However, the universe does have an origin; it originated, not by cosmic chance, but by the deliberate plan of God through His Word. Further, we saw that this cosmos is God’s temple (heaven is His throne and the earth is His footstool – Isaiah 66:1) and that God prepared this earth for the habitation of man: the crown of His creation (Psalm 8).

This wonderful picture becomes distorted by the deception of Satan and the sin of man in Genesis 3. In this most sad chapter of Scripture, Adam is forced to choose between the true, trustworthy and treasurable Word of God and the false, seductive and destructive word of Satan. Unfortunately, for us, Adam chose the latter.

God’s Word is precious and true, and those who treasure it and trust it will find ultimate joy (Genesis 2:15-25).
God provided absolutely everything for Adam. He planted a garden-sanctuary where He would meet with man and where man could find his sustenance. God also provided a companion-helper for the man in the woman. Thus, Adam had everything he could ever need or want. God did prohibit Adam from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but that was for Adam’s own good; God would be Adam’s source for all knowledge and wisdom, and Adam would have to trust God for it.

Satan’s word is seductive and false, for he is the father of lies and lying is his nature (Genesis 3:1).
Jesus said that Satan has been a liar from the beginning, for that is his nature (John 8:44). The Bible says that Satan is the “accuser of the brethren” (Zechariah 3:1-2; Revelation 12:10); he disguises himself as “an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:4); and “he prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

Sin is the failure to treasure and trust God’s Word and instead, trusting and treasuring the promises of Satan and sin to satisfy and bring us joy (Genesis 3:1-7).
James reminds us that the source of our sin is frustrated, unmet, selfish desires (James 1:14-15; 4:1-3). This is precisely how Satan operates; he seeks to make happy people discontent with God’s provision. Adam and Eve were content; they had everything, but Satan deceived Eve into thinking that God was withholding something – that they were missing something.

This too is how Satan works on us: “If you only had a wife/husband like . . .”; “if you only had that persons’ job . . “; if you only had a husband/wife . . .” Satan seeks to breed discontent in our lives and tempts us with selfish, unmet, frustrated desires.

Contrary to Satan’s promises, however, sin only brings grief and the judgment of a holy God (Genesis 3:8-25).
Though Satan promised fulfillment, sin brought guilt and shame and fear (Genesis 3:8-10). Sin brought holy God’s judgment (3:14-25). This is also what we will find. That adulterous affair, the cheating on your taxes, embezzling from the company, whatever it may be, it does not bring the joy promised; instead it brings grief, fear, shame and ultimately judgment.

The Lord our God is gracious and merciful and promises to provide a way of escape from sin and judgment and death through Jesus Christ (Genesis 3:15).
Satan’s deception brought sin and death to all humanity (Romans 5:12-21); however, God promised that the seed of the woman would ultimately defeat the seed of the serpent and bring about victory for those who believe. This seed/offspring/child is none other than Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:16).

Sin can only be overcome through Christ, by faith in Christ’s life and work (see Hebrews 2).

So then, how do Christians fight sin on a daily basis?

We must treasure and trust God’s Word above any promises of the devil and any schemes and philosophies of man!
This means that we must:
1. Know God’s Word – we can not treasure and trust God’s Word if we do not know it. Therefore, I would urge each of us to plan on reading God’s Word on a regular basis. Bible reading plans abound, but you must discipline yourself to choose a plan and choose a place and choose a time.

2. Treasure God’s Word – We must not only read God’s Word; we must study it, meditate on it, memorize it. We must plead with God that His Word would be like honey to our lips.

3. Trust God’s Word – the fight we fight is a fight of faith (Ephesians 6:10-20). We must believe God’s Word over the promises of Satan and the schemes of man. This will bring us ultimate joy!

One helpful and important resource:
John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God

May God grant us victory over Satan and sin!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Juan
Acts 20:24

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A few weeks ago I argued that the point of the cultural/creation mandate to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it (Genesis 1:28), was not simply about having a bunch of children.

Following G. K. Beale’s exegesis, in his The Temple and the Church’s Mission, I argued that Adam was to extend the boundaries of the garden-sanctuary over all the earth and fill this earth with “godly” offspring. We fulfill the mandate now through the lens of the Great Commission and subduing the earth with a Christian witness and worldview as we display God’s glory in all of life throughout all the earth.

One way we fulfill the mandate is by Christians having children and raising them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. The issue is not just having children, but having godly children by the grace of God. This means that Christians have to be careful to not fall for the worldly mindset that children are a burden to us and to our eco systems. Birth rates are declining throughout the world because of the mindset of the world. As Christians we have to war against this worldly mentality: putting off having children because _____________ (you fill in the blank).

As I mentioned, the heart attitude of Christians should be that children are a blessing from the Lord. That doesn’t mean you have to have twenty children; it means that whether you have one or a dozen, you should see them as a blessing. Further, children are not a novelty in that once you have a boy or a girl, your “set” is complete and you’ve done your job to fulfill the mandate. When our attitude is one of children as a blessing, we will be open minded to what the Lord does in our family planning.

This brings me to the question of the birth control pill. I mentioned a few weeks ago that some birth control pills may function as abortifacients. In other words, they may abort a human child that has already been conceived. Randy Alcorn has written a booklet on this subject and you can go to the link here. I have some physician friends that I hope to interview in the future about this subject. If you have any questions you would like me to ask them, please send them through the comments section on this blog.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Juan
Acts 20:24

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Feb
25

For the Week of February 25!

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I will be traveling to Florida this week, so I will blog when I can. I promised you last week that I would post some helpful materials to read with your children. I had posted on that previously, so you can look there.

I am taking this next week as a personal retreat where I will be doing some research and study. Please pray for my fruitfulness. Lord willing, I will be back in the pulpit this coming Lord’s Day.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Juan
Acts 20:24

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This Sunday morning we will address the question of the origin of sin. As you prepare read Genesis 3, out loud in several translations. You may also find it helpful to read Romans chapter 5, from verse 18, until the end.

Ask yourself who is the serpent and how does the rest of Scripture identify him?

Ask yourself what led Adam and Eve to sin? How does this differ, how is it similar to how you are tempted to sin?

How must a holy God respond to sin? How did God respond to Adam and Eve?

Finally, who/what did Adam’s sin affect and to what extend did it affect himself/others/creation?

May God richly bless you as you meditate on His word and prepare your hearts for Lord’s day worship.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Juan
Acts 20:24

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I promised you that I would post some helpful resources for parents this week. I apologize for taking so long. I was set back early in the week by a tooth infection. Nevertheless, I am finally feeling better so after some reflections, I will offer a list of resources on upcoming posts.

Godly Offspring, the Great Commission and the Glory of God
Genesis 2-5

As we began our study last Sunday morning, I asked how we should view children. I mentioned that there is a secular vision that sees overpopulation as a problem. The most extreme versions of this view (i.e.: The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement) would tell us that we should stop having children immediately in order that the earth may recover.

On the other side of the pendulum are Christians who advocate having as many children as humanly possible, removing your family from corrupt culture (including the church which is corrupt) and worshipping only with families who have this same vision. The end result is an isolation from culture which I believe violates the cultural/creation mandate of Genesis 1:28, to be fruitful and multiply. Now, this may sound contradictory to the brethren in this camp because they would argue they are in fact fulfilling the mandate to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. However, as I argued Sunday morning, bearing children, even many children in and of itself does not fulfill the cultural/creation mandate to be fruitful and multiply.

As God’s image bearers, Adam with Eve’s help was to fill the earth with the glory of the Lord by fulfilling the cultural/creation mandate (Genesis 1:28; 2).
As I have been arguing, I take the garden to be more than just a nice paradise; God created the garden as a sanctuary and placed Adam in this garden-sanctuary to serve Him as a priest. The language used in Genesis 2, is reflective of the language used in reference to the tabernacle/temple and priests in the Old Testament. For a thorough and convincing argument of this position, see G. K. Beale, The Temple and the Church’s Mission.

In this light, Adam would fulfill the cultural/creation mandate to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth as he, with Eve’s help, extended the boundaries of the garden-sanctuary throughout the earth and populated this expanding sanctuary with his offspring/children in the image of God, thereby filling the earth with the glory of God (again see Beale).

Adam’s sin, however, introduced a competing, ungodly line that threatened God’s cultural/creation mandate/blessing and denied God’s glory (Genesis 3).
It is better to say that Adam’s sin apparently placed God’s plan in danger because in reality, God’s plan can never be thwarted. God establishes the beginning from the end, and He knows all things; therefore, God permitted Adam to sin and introduce a competing ungodly line. God declared that as a result of their sin, now the offspring of the woman and the offspring of the serpent would be in enmity. This, of course, we see immediately as Cain (offspring of the devil) kills Abel (offspring of the woman).

The book of Genesis is structured specifically to trace the godly offspring in distinction from the ungodly line. Thus, Genesis is interested in identifying the offspring of the woman through whom God’s promises (Genesis 3:15) will be kept. Yet, the question remains: “Which seed, offspring will prevail?”

God promised that a godly seed would prevail and fill the earth with the glory of the Lord by fulfilling the cultural/creation mandate/blessing (Genesis 3:15).
God promised that the seed/offspring of the woman would prevail over the offspring of the serpent (Genesis 3:15). This is the first offer of good news, the protoevangelium. And we know that this godly seed/offspring is identified as none other than Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:16). And we know that Jesus prevailed over the serpent by His death and resurrection (Colossians 2:13-15).

The Bible declares that Jesus is now exercising dominion over creation and expanding the borders of His kingdom as He places all His enemies under His feet (1 Corinthians 15:20-28). The way that Jesus extends His kingdom boundaries is by gathering godly offspring to God the Father from all nations (Hebrews 2). Thus, those who profess faith in Christ are the godly offspring of Abraham (Galatians 3:7-9).

In other words, since the first Adam failed in his mission to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth (with the glory of God through godly offspring), Jesus has come as the last Adam and is now fulfilling the cultural/creation mandate/blessing to have dominion over all things and to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth with the glory of God through godly offspring.

Consequently, we, as God’s children (and Abraham’s children) by faith in Christ, now join Christ in fulfilling the cultural/creation mandate/blessing to fill the earth with the glory of God through godly offspring. For us in the new covenant, this mandate is what we have come to know as the Great Commission. Thus we are to “proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15), to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19), as we await the return of Christ, when He will consummate the kingdom of God which will encompass the new heavens and the new earth (Revelation 21).

Thus, we fulfill the cultural/creation mandate/blessing today:

By God’s grace – having children and shepherding their hearts toward Christ in order that they may come to know Christ as their Lord and King!
This means that contrary to the secular view that sees children as a burden (either on us or on our planet), Christians should view children as a blessing from the Lord (Psalm 127:3-4), and we are to raise our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). So it’s not just having children; it’s having children and training them up in righteousness. Yet, this is not the only way we fulfill the mandate.

By God’s grace – we are to take the gospel to all nations that those who believe might become children of God (John 1:12).
Though we are first missionaries in our homes to our unbelieving children, we must remember that we are commanded to make disciples of all nations, not just our children. So, evangelism and missions are not optional; they are mandated by our Lord, for Christ is calling children to the Father through the proclamation of the gospel (Romans 10:8-15).

Therefore, we do not fulfill the cultural/mandate blessing by just having children, as important as that is; we fulfill it by gathering children for God from all nations.

By God’s grace and in faith – we are to be in the world but not of it (1 Corinthians 5:9-13).
Christ
, by His death and resurrection, is redeeming all things (Colossians 1:20). This means that in reality there is no such separation as secular and religious, only sacred and profane. This means that all work and all vocation is to be done to the glory of God. This means that we are to be God’s image in a lost world, pointing to the truth of the Father of lights. This means that we cannot take our families and isolate ourselves in the woods in order to remove ourselves from society. This means that we are to go into all the world and be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth with godly offspring by proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ that all who hear may become children of God!
Grace and peace,
Pastor Juan
Acts 20:24
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Feb
19

Fidel Resigns – Pray for Cuba!

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The 81 year old Fidel Castro has just announced his resignation as Cuba’s long-time president. In 2006, he passed his authority to his brother Raul, who is himself 76 years old. There is much speculation about what will happen next, but be assured that Fidel Castro is a very smart man and that this transition has been thought through very well. You can read a news account here.

A team from High Pointe was scheduled to go to Cuba next week; however, the immigration laws will change as of February 23, and our entire team will be required to obtain religious visas from the Cuban government to do work with the Cuban Christians. This is a new development and no doubt corresponds with the changes in leadership just announced. By requiring religious visas assigned by the government, they will be able to keep better track of us on the ground. We have made the necessary requests and hope to return to Cuba in June, if the Lord wills.

Please pray for the Cuban people that this change will actually be for their good and that it will open even more doors for the gospel.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Juan
Acts 20:24

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Godly Offspring, the Great Commission, and God’s Glory
Genesis 2-5

As we continue our study of origins in Genesis 1-11, we will look at the origins of godly offspring. God commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Is this mandate no longer in operation? Is human reproduction overpopulating the planet to such a degree that we need to curb child-bearing or even have a moratorium on having children?

How are Christians to view the cultural mandate? Does it deal only with having children, or is there something more to be said and done in obedience to God’s command?

Lord willing, this Sunday we will tackle these and other questions that arise from the creation/cultural mandate (Genesis 1:28) as we seek to understand God’s desire and our purpose to glorify God.

As you prepare, consider the following Scriptures:
1. Genesis 1:26-28; 2:15-25; 3:15
2. Malachi 2:13-16
3. Galatians 3
4. 1 John 3:1-15
5. Revelation 21

Grace and peace,

Pastor Juan
Acts 20:24

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