Tuesday, April 22, 2014

WESLEY SERMONS #6

In this series, 60 of Wesley's sermons will be summarized into about 250 words. I'm using the work of Collins/Vickers as my source (for transcripts and order), but the summaries are mine (so any misrepresentations of Wesley may be attributed to me).

THE WAY TO THE KINGDOM

The kingdom of God (which is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, Romans 14:17) is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15).

The kingdom of God refers to true religion. It is all about God reigning in your heart.

True religion is not about what you do with your hands (whether it be rituals or good works). Certainly bad behavior (or the absence of good deeds) is evidence one does not have true religion, but good behavior is no guarantee of a person’s true religious state.

True religion is also not a matter of mere mental assent to the right creeds, doctrines, and opinions. It’s not about what’s in your head (after all, the devil holds the right religious opinions). Rituals, good works, and right beliefs have their place, but they are not true religion.

True religion is about righteousness. Righteousness is inseparable from love… love for God and love for your neighbor. Love is a matter of the heart. True religion is a matter of peace and joy in the heart due to the presence of the Spirit. True religion is in the heart.

The way to this ‘true religion’ is, first, repentance (a deep sense of personal sin and hopelessness) and then believing the Gospel (trusting in Jesus Christ). True religion is confirmed by a loving relationship with God.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

WESLEY SERMONS #5

In this series, 60 of Wesley's sermons will be summarized into about 250 words. I'm using the work of Collins/Vickers as my source (for transcripts and order), but the summaries are mine (so any misrepresentations of Wesley may be attributed to me).  


THE SPIRIT OF BONDAGE AND OF ADOPTION
To put it simply, there are 3 kinds of people in this world.

Most people are in the natural state. They are spiritually asleep. They do not realize the precariousness of their position. They may be pleased with their lives. They neither fear nor love God. They have no light. They have a false sense of peace. They are heathens. They sin, but they likely don’t realize it or think much of it.

Many people are in the legal state. They are spiritually awake. They realize their present danger. They are miserable. They live in fear. They experience the pain of a new bright light. They have no peace. They are as Jews, under the law. They sin unwillingly. They fight with sin, but cannot conquer it.

Few people are in the evangelical state. They are even more awake- awake to the great love of God. They are joyful. No more guilt, anguish, bondage, etc. The strive against and conquer sin. They love God. They experience glorious light and true peace. They are Christians. Now under grace, they cease from sinning.

Examine yourself! What is your primary attitude toward God? Love? Fear? Neither? What is your primary relation to sin? Victory? Defeat? Indifference? Only those who love God and are experiencing victory over sin are truly in Christ. Of course, this sermon is over-simplified. Each individual may experience various states at once, but by all means strive to wholly live in the evangelical state!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

WESLEY SERMONS #4

In this series, 60 of Wesley's sermons will be summarized into about 250 words. I'm using the work of Collins/Vickers as my source (for transcripts and order), but the summaries are mine (so any misrepresentations of Wesley may be attributed to me). 

AWAKE, THOU THAT SLEEPEST (Charles Wesley)

“Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” (Ephesians 5:14)


All people begin… and many people remain… in a state of sleep. They are asleep spiritually. They are totally unaware of their actual spiritual condition. Some, perhaps some in this room, are in the ‘deep sleep’ of thinking they are spiritually alive when they are actually dead unto God. They call themselves Christians, but Christ is not in them. Until they are awakened to their lost-ness, they remain lost.


So WAKE UP! If you think this sermon is for someone else, it’s probably for you! Sleeping is, in some ways, a terrible metaphor when we consider that such sleepers are in the devil’s arms, on the brink of the pit, and in the jaws of everlasting destruction. They will not find TRUE rest until they rest in Christ. If you’ve not been made new and received the Holy Spirit, you have no basis to hope (neither the lack of bad deeds nor the presence of good ones is sufficient). You simply must WAKE UP!


The good news is that whoever genuinely responds to God’s wake-up call will truly come alive! They’ll be no doubt about it because they’ll have the Spirit of Christ in them. The filling of the Spirit is the mark of every Christian, but I fear we’re just a collection of Pharisees and Sadducees! We must WAKE UP before it is too late!

Friday, March 21, 2014

WESLEY SERMONS #3

In this series, 60 of Wesley's sermons will be summarized into about 250 words. I'm using the work of Collins/Vickers as my source (for transcripts and order), but the summaries are mine (so any misrepresentations of Wesley may be attributed to me). 


FREE GRACE

We are saved by grace… and that grace is freely given (unconditional) and available to all (every individual). Some, however, believe that saving grace is only given to certain people. These individuals were selected to receive this grace in an eternal decree of predestination. The rest, it seems, are decreed for damnation.

Those who believe in this doctrine of predestination sometimes try to mitigate the apparent unfairness by suggesting that God only predestines the elect to salvation and not the non-elect to damnation. But this simply doesn’t work. If God doesn’t extend saving grace to the non-elect, it is impossible for them to be saved!

This view of predestination tends to destroy the call to evangelism, holiness, enemy-love, salvation, assurance, joy, and good works. Why bother with such things if our ultimate fate is predetermined? It also renders the cross obsolete (wasn’t their fate already sealed?) and destroy the consistency of Scripture by creating contradictions.

But if I’m right (and this view of predestination is wrong), then why aren’t all people saved? The answer is simple: Some willfully reject God’s gracious offer.

The view of predestination described here is blasphemous. It makes Jesus a hypocrite and destroys the Father’s character. In this view, God does Satan’s job for him! It ultimately makes God the devil! How much greater the alternative: Grace is free to all! There is hope!

Friday, March 14, 2014

5 Reasons to Watch the Sabres

Struggling to get excited about watching the Sabres play out their pitiful season? Here are 5 races that might help to make these games more interesting to watch.


1. Who will lead the team in scoring?
Yes, the final numbers for the Sabres leading scorer will be pretty depressing. There's a great chance the team 'leader' will have less than 50 points! In any case, it is an accomplishment to lead an NHL team in scoring and the race for both goals and points is tight enough to be interesting. Hodgson and Ennis are currently neck and neck in both categories. Who will win? Will they get to 50 points? 20 goals?


2. Can Ville Leino go the whole year without scoring?
Rob Ray had 41 career goals. Leino is stuck on 40... and he's been stuck ALL SEASON LONG. This would not be too alarming if Leino were paid like Rob Ray was paid, but the reality is that Ville is the highest paid forward on the roster! Will he be able to outscore Rob Ray? Could he at least pull even?


3. Will Enroth or Neuvirth win the goalie battle?
One legitimately interesting race is in goal. Which goalie will play better as the season winds down? Enroth and Neuvirth seem pretty even. Both will have plenty of opportunities (and shots against!) to prove themselves worthy of playing time next season. Will one of them begin to emerge as a legit starter? Will either be able to pitch a shutout (Sabres have none so far this season)?


4. Will any Sabres help your fantasy team?
OK. I'm basically kidding here. If you have any Sabres on your fantasy team, chances are you've long been out of the race for first place in your league. I suppose it is possible that Ennis or Stafford could put up a few points here or there (though probably not both). In all honesty, Mike Weber is probably your best bet if you're looking for hits and blocked shots (even his +/- has been better lately!).


5. Can the Sabres secure a top 2 pick?
I'll end with some good news. It is HIGHLY improbable that the Sabres will win their way out of last place. It is more likely that they'll lose the lottery and have to pick 2nd. A similar race to watch is where the Islanders finish as they have to decide whether to give the Sabres a 1st round pick this year or next. But a word of warning: This is Buffalo sports and it's always possible that the Sabres will go on a winning streak and jeopardize all that they've not worked for this season!