A Bible Study of the Commands and Acts of Jesus

Matthew Chapter Eight

A Bible Study of the Commands and Acts of Jesus chapter eightI am willing.” Matt 8:2

I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” Matt 8:10

The subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside into the darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matt 8:12

He touched her hand and the fever left Peter’s mother-in-law. Matt 8:15

Jesus drove out the spirits of the demon-possessed with a word. Matt 8:16

Let the dead bury their own dead.” Matt 8:22

Why are you so afraid?” Matt 8:26

 

Why Must the United Methodist Church Split Over the LGBT Issue?

Traditionalist Methodist Questions and Answers

Question: Why Must the United Methodist Church Split Over the LGBT Issue?

Answer: Great question. Many Methodist have asked why those who support the LGBT community and want to preserve an inclusive nature within the United Methodist Church are at odds with those who oppose same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay clergy. Before answering, I thought it might be helpful to look at the UMC Book of Discipline.

Article IV of the UMC Book of Discipline states: “We believe the Holy Bible, Old and New Testaments, reveals the Word of God so far as it is necessary for our salvation. It is to be received through the Holy Spirit as the true rule and guide for faith and practice. Whatever is not revealed in or established by the Holy Scriptures is not to be made an article of faith nor is it to be taught as essential to salvation.”

Regarding Scripture, the UMC Book of Discipline states: United Methodists share with other Christians the conviction that Scripture is the primary source and criterion for Christian doctrine. The Bible is sacred canon for Christian people. We interpret individual texts in light of their place in the Bible as a whole.

Article VI—of the UMC Book of Discipline states: “The Old Testament is not contrary to the New; for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and man, being both God and Man. Although the law given from God by Moses as touching ceremonies and rites does not bind Christians, nor ought the civil precepts thereof of necessity be received in any commonwealth; yet notwithstanding, no Christian whatsoever is free from the obedience of the commandments which are called moral.”

The split within the United Methodist Church, while focused on moral issues regarding sexuality, is actually rooted in two diverse views of Scripture. The Traditionalists hold that the Bible is God’s living and final authoritative word on matters covered in Scripture. Progressives hold to the statement in the UMC Discipline that says, “We interpret individual texts in light of their place in the Bible as a whole.” Since the Law and Prophets were written at a time when women had few rights, slavery was condoned, polygamy among God’s people was acceptable (though marriage between one man and one woman was God’s stated preference), Progressives contend that sexual orientation was never correctly addressed in Scripture. If love is love and love among two members of the same sex is something God created, Progressives asks, how can it be wrong?

Traditionalist counter that if sins listed in the Bible are no longer considered sins and if acts in the Bible that God called “grievous, bad, detestable” are now “right and loving,” then all aspects of the Bible are called into question: including that Jesus is the son of God and is, in fact, God himself.

In the last chapter of the Bible, Revelation 22, Jesus says, “Outside are the dogs (not literal dogs, but the morally impure), those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” These are the ones Jesus says will not have the right to the tree of life and may not go through the gates into the new city.

For Progressives the split is over the issue of love as they define love. For Traditionalist the split is over obedience to God’s word and God’s instructions of how we are to live our lives. Traditionalist argue that there is power in God’s word and that the spirit of Jesus can transform everyone who receives him. Progressives argue we are all God’s children, he made us male, female and male-female-combined, and he loves us as we are.

The split will not resolve these two opposing views, but it will give both factions the opportunity to form community and worship God and Jesus as they see fit.

A Bible Study of the Commands and Acts of Jesus

Matthew Chapter Seven

A Bible Study of the Commands and Acts of Jesus chapter sevenDo not judge, or you too will be judged. In the same way you judge others, you will be judged. With the measure you judge, it will be measured to you.” Matt 7:1-2

Take the plank out of your own eye. Then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matt 7:5

In everything, do to others what you would have them to do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matt 7:12

Enter through the narrow gate. Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life. Only a few find it.” Matt 7:14

Watch out for false prophets. By their fruit you will recognize them.” Matt 7:15-16

Only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven will enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matt 7:21

Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Matt 7:24

Jesus taught as one who had authority, not as their teachers of the law. Matt 7:29

Why Do “Traditionalist” Have to Leave UMC

Traditionalist Methodist Questions and Answers

Question: Why Do “Traditionalist” Have to Leave UMC? Question: Why Do “Traditionalist” Have to Leave UMC?

Answer: Great question. Many Methodist have asked why those who support the teachings and tenants of John Wesley and believe the words and acts of Jesus, his disciples, and God have been asked to leave the UMC denomination. Before answering, I thought it might be helpful to look at a similar division of property from the Bible.

In Genesis 13:5-13, Abraham and Lot, due to quarreling among the two men’s families and flocks, agree to separate. Abraham lets Lot pick the territory he desires.

Now Lot was moving about with Abram but the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. Quarreling arose between Abram’s herders and Lot’s. So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives. Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.”

Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt. So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company.  – Genesis 13:5-13

Currently the United Methodist Church’s global membership stands at 12.5 million. In 2016 it dropped to 6.95 million people, a decrease of about 1.6 percent from 2015, roughly the same percentage decrease seen in the last two years. U.S. average weekly attendance is less than 2.66 million, a 3.3 percent decline. If we assume in 2020 that membership declines have held steady at 1.6 percent, then today there are around 6.5 million UMC members.

Mark Tooley, President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, believes around 2.5 million will join the conservative church, and 3.5 million will remain in the progressive, liberal UMC denomination. “Nearly all the 5.5 million overseas members, mostly in Africa, will join the conservative church,” Tooley says, “so the conservative denomination will have about 8 million members globally.”

On the surface it may appear that Methodist who hold to precepts in the Book of Discipline are consenting to a land-grab by the progressive, liberal faction, but I believe God will bless the new denomination in the same way he blessed Abraham. When it comes to church growth and making disciples of Christ, it’s not the land and location that matters but the God you worship and obey. Follow and serve him only and, be it a desert or a well-watered pasture, his word will not return empty.

One final note: the example sighted above regarding Abraham and Lot is in no way meant to pass judgement on those in the progressive, liberal faction of UMC or to call out those in the LGBT community. I selected that passage simply because it shows how two groups who are in conflict can agree to separate and still love and support one another.

A Bible Study of the Commands and Acts of Jesus

Matthew Chapter Six

A Bible Study of the Commands and Acts of Jesus - chapter sixDo not do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men to be seen by them.” Matt 6:1

When you give to the needy, do not announce it.” Matt 6:2

Close the door to your room and pray to your Father who is unseen.” Matt 6:6

If you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly father will also forgive you.” Matt 6:14

If you DO NOT forgive me their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”Matt 6:15

When you fast, do not look somber.” Matt 6:16

When you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face.” Matt 6:17

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth.” Matt 6:19

Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” Matt 6:20

You cannot serve both God and Money.” Matt 6:24

Do not worry.” Matt 6:25

Seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness.” Matt 6:33

Was your water baptism a dip and tip event or a holy encounter with God?

Sermon Notes: Jan 12, 2020

Was your water baptism a dip and tip event or a holy encounter with God?

Today was “Remember your baptism” Sunday at North Rale
igh United Methodist Church. We were encouraged to go up, dip a finger in a bowl of water, touch our forehead and remember our baptism. It’s always important to remember your baptism. It’s even better to write it someplace where your family can find it upon your death. For some, this notation may be the only evidence that they ever committed their life to Christ and received him as their savior. Article XVII of Methodist Articles of Religion on baptism state:

“Baptism is not only a sign of profession and mark of difference whereby Christians are distinguished from others that are not baptized; but it is also a sign of regeneration or the new birth. The Baptism of young children is to be retained in the Church.”

I have witnessed many infants “baptized” during Sunday services. There is value it the ceremony. The family and church members voice their commitment to raise the child as a fellow family member of Christ’s body. But the infant has no say in the matter and will not for years to come. Only later, when an individual reaches the “age of reason” — seven, ten, twelve … twenty — can they appreciate the words of God and become convicted of their sin. Before this moment we are:

  • Dead in our sins and transgressions.
  • Follow the ways of this world.
  • Follow the ruler of the kingdom of the air.
  • Follow the spirit who is now at work in those of us who are disobedient.
  • Gratify the cravings of our sinful nature – which is our fleshly desires.
  • Fail to realize that we are, by nature, children of wrath.

It is by grace you have been saved. This is a gift of God.
Ephesians 2:2-10

The pastor at NRUMC hit on a number of possible reasons why Christ allowed his cousin John to baptize Christ in the River Jordon, but Jesus himself said it was for this reason: “To fulfill all righteousness.”

There may be other benefits for adult baptism, but for Christ it indicated that he was consecrated to God. An infant cannot consecrate themselves to God. Parents may consecrate a child to God, but we must consider that our “free will” plays a role in our actions and future. If sprinkling water on an infant would save their offspring from hell and a life of sinful behavior, a great many parents of all beliefs, even unbelief, would ask that their child be dipped and flipped for God.

In his baptism Christ was officially approved by God. “And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’ Matt 3:16.

After the baptism of Jesus the, Holy Spirit was seen descending on Jesus. After our baptism of water we should experience the Holy Spirit descending upon and indwelling within us. In fact, this marks the beginning of our “new birth.” From that moment forward, the spiritual DNA of Christ is transferred into our spirit. This starts our sanctification — a fancy word that means “set apart,” “being made or becoming “being made or becoming holy.” The old body remains, but a new spirit begins to grow within us. Jesus baptism is an example for us to follow.

As I watched the congregation parade by the bowls of water, dip and tip, I wondered if there were any who had not been baptized: if there were some who never professed with their mouth and believed in their heart that Christ was the Son of God — was God himself. Perhaps as an infant their parents had consecrated them to God and it was for that reason they were in church today, and most other Sundays, rather than someplace else. But were they now children of God or children of wrath? Did they know beyond a doubt?

If you cannot recall water baptism as an adult or receiving God’s Holy Spirit, I suggest you find a time to do this. In your shower, in your bathtub, in a pool, in the ocean, lake, pond, river or creek … pick a moment when you consecrate yourself to God through water immersion. This can be between you and God or with others as witnesses. Then go to a quiet place and ask God to give you his promised Holy Spirit. Wait for it. Meditate on his word. Pray in silence and audibly. Weep, plead, confess … this is a holy transaction. Some may will feel warmth, conviction, loved, speak in tongues … others nothing. Do not focus on the feeling: focus on your sacrifice to God. You are surrendering your life in order to gain his.

When finished write down the time and date and keep that information someplace safe where your family can find it upon your death. Then watch as the Spirit of God slowly battles your old flesh into submission. This is baptism. This is why it’s important. Christ came and died for you: make that moment a monumental experience.

A Bible Study of the Commands and Acts of Jesus

Matthew Chapter Five

A Bible Study of the Words and Acts of Jesus from a Traditionalist Methodist“Blessed are the poor in spirit.”

“Blessed are those who mourn.”

“Blessed are the meek.”

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.”

“Blessed are the merciful.”

“Blessed are the pure in heart.”

“Blessed are the peacemakers.”

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because they are righteous.”

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, say all kinds of evil things against you because you are a follower of Christ.” Matt 5:3-12

“You are the salt of the earth.” Matt 5:13

“You are the light of the world.” Matt 5:14

“Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your father in heaven.” Matt 5:16

“I have not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come to fulfill them.” Matt 5:17

“Until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen will disappear from the Law.” Matt 5:18

“Anyone who breaks the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.” Matt 5:19

“Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matt 5:20

“Anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement.” Matt 5:22

“Anyone who says, ‘You fool’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” Matt 5:22

“Go and be reconciled to your brother.” Matt 5:24

“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who takes you to court.” Matt 5:25

“Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her.” Matt 5:28

“If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away.” Matt 5:29

“If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.” Matt 5:29

“Anyone who divorces his wife except for martial unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress.” Matt 5:32

“Anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.” Matt 5:32

“Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No.’ Anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” Matt 5:38

“Do not resist an evil person.” Matt 5:38

“If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Matt 5:39

“If someone wants to sue you, let him.” Matt 5:40

“If someone forces you to go one mile, go the extra mile.” Matt 5:41

“Give to one who asks.” Matt 5:42

“Do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” Matt 5:42

“Love your enemies.” Matt 5:44

“Pray for those who persecute you.” Matt 5:44

“Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matt 5:48