Tag Archives: VBS

2 Peter 1:3-8 — Game On!

2 Peter 1:3-8 — Game On!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 15, 2018

Sad to say but most Christians do not have a good grasp of theology. In fact for some churches they have taken arrogant pride in not being associated with any particular theology. This self-inflicted spiritual ignorance has become a disease that hinders the spiritual growth of believers. Churches and individual believers have lost their focus. When sports teams lose focus there is a cry that often is heard in the dugouts and sidelines: “Game on!” It means they are ready, willing, and able to do whatever it takes to win the game before them. I believe it is time for Christians to get their game on!

Gregory Camp wrote a song a few years back where the chorus went: “Hey now, you’re an all-star, get your game on, go play. Hey now, you’re a rock star, get the show on, get paid. And all that glitters is gold; only shooting stars break the mold!” Of course he was writing about living for the moment but it kind of applies for the believer who wants to shine in a sin-darken world. I believe it is time for Christians to get their game on! Let’s discover how…

READ: 2 Peter 1:3-8

When I go fishing I try to use bait or lures that will attract fish. I have learned that fish do not respond to a lure or bait because they like it, they respond because whatever is used triggers in them an instinctual response of aggression. And I have just about everything I need in my tackle box to attract fish. The Christian’s problem is they have swallowed the lie that they do not have what they need to attract the lost to Jesus. It is time to get our game on and realize…

I. Christians have everything they need to get their game on! (Vv. 3-4)

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

1. In our weakness we can think we are all alone in our faith walk. Sure we hear that Jesus is with us and his Spirit lives within us but then we get frightened, self-conscious, and forget who made the universe, who knows us intimately, and who gives us all we need. Peter reminds us that it is “His divine power [which] has given us everything we need for life and godliness”! Note that it isn’t our “divine” power; it is Jesus God who gives us everything we “need for life and godliness”! How is this done? It occurs “through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness”! Our knowledge comes when we realize our sin and his ability to cure it by “his own glory and goodness”! By Jesus’ power and holiness! Paul wrote “That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. (Ephesians 1:19-21 NIV)” WOW! In fact Jesus did not just display it to us in his death, burial, and resurrection but he freely gave that same power to us who believe! I know this to be true because God said it was and God never ever goes back on his word! Peter reminds us that “Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” Now dear gamer of God do you fully understand what Peter wrote here? Jesus God gave us freely everything we need to be in the game! In fact way much more than you have come to fully understand! We participate, are part of, in God’s divine nature and we have completely escaped our eternal death by his power and grace and the corruption of our own evil desires! WOW again! Christians have everything they need to get their game on!

EXAMPLE: Do you know who Erik Kennedy or Ryan Stiles are? They are the Equipment Managers for the Seahawks and the Mariners. Equipment managers are extremely important for a sports team, especially ones like the Mariners or Seahawks. Making sure each player has their specific guards, pads, gloves, bats, helmets and such makes sure the player can safely do the job there are hired to do with a minimum of injury. Where millions of dollars of investment in players is on the field these managers are important. Isn’t it therefore great to know that Jesus has given Christians everything they need to get their game on!

I learned in Seminary to use mnemonic devices to help me remember answers for the tests I had to take every week. Peter gives his readers a list of what God can supply to the believer that wants to get their game on to win the lost. Peter teaches us that in getting our game on…

II. Christians have the character strengths to finish the game! (Vv. 5-8)

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1. Peter gives us a litany which the Bible Knowledge Commentary states that “In this beautiful paragraph Peter orchestrates a symphony of grace. To the melody line of faith he leads believers to add harmony in a blend of seven Christian virtues which he lists without explanation or description.” However I view it as a kind of progression for us to participate in the game by the gift of his divine nature. It is “For this very reason” we are to “make every effort to add to [our] faith”. He begins with “goodness” in the NIV but it really is “valor” in the Greek which has often been lost in our day and age because it carries with it manliness or inner strength. From this we progress to “knowledge” which is the intrinsic knowledge of God, and then towards “self-control”. Being able to control one’s passions comes from knowledge of persevering towards godliness. From a godly nature comes “brotherly kindness” or more literally brotherly love. When a Christian can love another with the affection of Jesus then they can love one another sacrificially. Why would Peter list them this way? Many have speculated for thousands of years but I honestly believe Peter’s desire was that believers become like Jesus. Interestingly when Peter used the word “add” as in “add to your faith”, he was using a word where we get our words for chorus or choreograph. In ancient Greece the state established the chorus but the director, the choreographer, paid or supported the participants. A believer is to “furnish, supply, or support” his life with these virtues Peter lists and he writes why: “For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In this Peter reminds us to get our game on by remembering that Christians have the character strengths to finish the game!

EXAMPLE: Few people like it when sports figures who get paid millions of dollars to play a child’s game act like children on or off the field. Sometimes these overpaid players can begin to think they are the most important thing rather than the team they play for. And sadly there are those who were great at the game but are now remembered for their horrendous behavior instead. Many nowadays are not prepared for the public spotlight that is squarely paced on their every action and behavior. Isn’t it wonderful to know that Christians have the character strengths to finish the game!

Conclusion:

Christians have everything they need to get their game on! Christians have the character strengths to finish the game!
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This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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The God of the Universe! – Colossians 1:15-16

The God of the Universe! – Colossians 1:15-16
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 16, 2017

We know that God in his natural state, for lack of a better phrase, “is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24 NIV) and “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind” (Numbers 23:19 NIV) contrary to several heresies. However, folks have wondered for ages just what God might look like if one could see him and because of this he came in the form of Jesus to show himself to all mankind.

Paul teaches us about God through Jesus Christ. He wanted his readers to be enlightened to who exactly Jesus was and is. Recently I read an article that twisted the use of Lifeway’s VBS literature to teach Modalism where the persons of the Trinity represent only three modes or aspects of the divine revelation, not distinct and coexisting persons in the divine nature; Lifeway uses three states of being in an illustration of ice, liquid, and gas for water to help children understand the concept better. The author truly stretched his argument to fit his paradigm; a tomayto, tomahto kind of argument. Let’s discover for ourselves what Paul teaches us about the God of the universe…

READ: Colossians 1:15-16

There are certain characteristics concerning God that many believers fail to understand. Paul desired that the early church fully understand who God was and what that meant. The Israelites often failed to seek God as he truly is and were easily pulled into paganism. So Paul begins by teaching that…

I. Jesus is the God of the universe! (v. 15)

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

1. Paul begins by relating that Jesus “is the image of the invisible God.” Paul had written that “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4 NIV) The word “image” implies representation and expression. Like the head of a sovereign imprinted on a coin, so Christ is like the writer of Hebrews related, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” (Hebrews 1:3 NIV) Jesus is both Creator and receiver who is also the perfect picture of God. As Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father”. (John 14:9 NIV) The Bible Knowledge Commentary states that “Anyone who saw Christ, the visible manifestation of the invisible God, has thereby ‘seen’ God indirectly.” This is why John wrote in his gospel that “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.” (John 1:18 NIV) Jesus who is the exact representation of the invisible God, because he is God, made him visible when he came as a baby grew to be a man and died for our sins. As Paul would write, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name”! (Philippians 2:6-9 NIV) Therefore, Jesus is “the firstborn of all creation”! Jesus being “firstborn” signifies two very important things concerning who he is: 1) he existed before all of creation, and 2) he is ruler over all creation! The wording here for “firstborn” does not mean as Jehovah’s Witnesses or other heretical groups would have you believe that Jesus was the first created being, but rather he has always existed and since he has he cannot be part of creation if Jesus created “all things.” Paul is establishing that Jesus is the God of the universe!

EXAMPLE: There can be only one God. Now I know there are those who claim there is no God and it is all a myth but have a tough time explaining away his footprint in all of creation. But more than this, if Jesus was before all things and if you see Jesus you see God then Jesus is God! After all he did emphatically state, “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30 NIV) “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” (John 1:1-2 NIV) “‘I tell you the truth’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’”(John 8:58 NIV) “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9 NIV) and when Jesus prayed to God the Father he prayed that “All I have is yours, and all you have is mine.” (John 17:10 NIV) If Jesus is God then his willingness to go and die and rise again is tremendous! Jesus is the God of the universe!

Since Jesus is God who came and died for our sins we cannot and dare not worship anyone else. It is not only sheer folly but extremely dangerous to do so. As Jesus would state to the disbelieving Jews of his day, “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.” (John 8:24 NIV) From what Paul wrote we also know that…

II. Jesus is Creator God! (v. 16)

For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.

1. Paul reaffirms his statement that Jesus existed before all things and therefore since he did Paul knew that “For by him all things were created”! Now this is fundamentally of great importance to our theology. Our doctrine and teaching as believers. From this we know certain things concerning Jesus and because of this we are to live our lives accordingly. Here is why: If “all things were created” by Jesus that means us as well. And Paul immediately puts this into perspective by reiterating that “all things” means “things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities”! This means we follow the one who created the stars, planets, galaxies, moons, sun, birds of the air, beasts of the field, creatures in the waters, and all of nature! Contrary to those who would worship the earth or Mother Nature, Jesus created it himself! He created the tiniest microbe to the largest animal walking or swimming. God tells the Israelites that he was not satisfied with their worship or sacrifices because they were superficial and phony and he reminds them that “for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it.” (Psalms 50:10-12 NIV) While we are to recognize our stewardship of nature, we are commanded not to worship it; instead we are to give glory to the one who truly did create it in the first place! But notice that Paul continued by writing that Jesus also created that which was “visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities”. He meant that all spiritual beings, including all angels fallen or not, and all pontiffs, potentates, politicians, and presidents! It is truly sad when human beings think they are above God who created them. Succinctly Paul would write, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.” (Colossians 2:9-10 NIV) And again Paul would proclaim in his letter to the Romans, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” (Romans 11:36 NIV) Paul therefore finishes his statement by reiterating “all things were created by him and for him”! Jesus is Creator God!

EXAMPLE: There are a lot of folks in our day and age who think they are God, that they can dictate what to believe about their fellow man, their sin condition, or how they worship God or not. At their core they are hedonists because they put themselves and their emotions before anyone or anything. For them love is the measurement of what is godly. What they believe has no eternal consequence for them because they live for the here and now. For those who transparently say they believe in Jesus do not give him the honor he is due by their acceptance of immorality and idolatry. They have forgotten that Jesus is Creator God!

Conclusion:

Jesus is the God of the universe and Jesus is Creator God!
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This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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