Sunday, January 20, 2019

686. Danger: Elevating the "Good Book" Above the Person of Jesus

Have you ever wondered how people have been spiritually nourished and sustained when they never had exposure to what we call The Holy Bible? It’s easy to forget in our modern-day western civilization, but Bibles haven’t been collecting dust on living room tables for most centuries since the time of the cross.

If you’ve been listening to the Growing in Grace podcast for any length of time, you know we cherish the information and revelation found within the pages of the Scriptures. But even as believers in Christ, our understanding of them is far from perfect, it can be easy for us to misinterpret various things or begin to filter our limited understanding through doctrines of men and denominational dogma. Unfortunately, at times, we may be doing the same thing some of the Jews did before the cross - elevating the written pages above the Person to whom the writings bear witness. Those Jews knew the Scriptures and thought they would find life within those writings… but they did not have His Word in them because they refused to come to Jesus - the only One who could give life.

Jesus put it this way when speaking to them: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40 ESV).

Jesus did not say, “I and the Bible are one.” He is supreme compared to scrolls and predominant over publishers. Jesus is the living Word that has been around before there was a beginning. Be thankful for the Scriptures, because they bear witness of the Son… but ultimately, life comes from one source - not the pages, but the Person - Jesus Christ. He stated that it would be the Spirit of truth who would abide in us and now be our guide. He is the one we should all agree to rally around and trust in together - not our flimsy theology.

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Sunday, January 13, 2019

685. Is Everything in the Bible Written to Us Directly?

Everything within God’s written Word is there for a reason. Sometimes this can cause Christians to assume that everything within each passage is somehow meant to be applied directly to our lives. God must have some sort of secret meaning or hidden message that we need to tap into in order for us to gain wisdom for our current situation or for the next step in our lives. Millions of sermons continue to be built upon this premise. Often, we’re trying to figure out how to make “verses” relevant for us today, but there are times when that isn’t why it was written. Our conversation this week revolves around the importance of context within the Scriptures. Not only the context of the passage, but the context of the two primary covenants upon which the entire Bible is based upon.

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EXTRA: On this week's podcast Kap mentioned a public speaking appearance of his from last year. Here is his 40 minute message on YouTube.

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Sunday, January 06, 2019

684. How to Get Ideas for a Growing in Grace Podcast: Listen to "Bad News" Church Sermons

When raised within a certain belief system, we tend to assume our way of thinking is generally the correct one and that it’s rooted in absolute truth. What happens when we find out the church teaching we’ve trusted in has been built around pieces that don’t accurately fit the puzzle of the bigger picture? Among thousands of Christian denominations, people with good intentions have bought into an idea or mindset about Bible beliefs that are founded on doctrines of men about a Word that is not rightly divided. On the other hand, those of us who have discovered faith-based righteousness through God’s unlimited love and grace can easily forget about some of those legalistic teachings that bring people down. When we prepare to do a podcast that communicates the truth of God’s grace through the finished work of Jesus, sometimes it’s based upon having heard a sermon from a popular church teaching that left people in uncertainty, guilt, and condemnation. This is why we occasionally like to check-out some of these lifeless teachings in order to help remind us of what many church attendees are being subjected to and it inspires us to communicate the message of freedom found in the New Covenant.

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Sunday, December 30, 2018

Top Picks of 2018

Happy New Year from the Growing in Grace podcast! We'll return in 2019 with brand new weekly Growing in Grace episodes, but this week's topic is the Top Picks of 2018. Mike and Joel have both independently selected two of their favorite episodes from this past year.

We'll start with this pick from Mike: Dead to Sin, Alive to Righteousness. (Podcast 655).

"This is one of my personal favorite Growing in Grace podcasts in 2018. It quickly and simply covers a handful of topics that are commonly misunderstood within the vocabulary of legalistic religious circles:

Under grace, can we just go out and do whatever we want?
Sin, repentance, and struggles.
Understanding who you are: The righteousness identity of a believer.
Already forgiven and sins taken away."


Joel's first pick comes from a 17 part series that we did called "Summarizing the Scripture." As we were nearing the end of the series, we did an episode called Contradictions or Different Covenants? (Podcast 645).

"I like this episode because it's a great summary of the differences between the Old and New Covenants, and we talk about why did Jesus often taught works-based teachings that seem to contradict the essence of the New Covenant.  Under the Old Covenant, it was up to the people to keep the covenant, but all they ever did was fail.  Everything in the New Covenant is based on the finished work of Jesus and God's oath that He made to Himself, and not the works of the people.  It always confused me why Paul seemed to teach righteousness as a free gift that we receive apart from works, and yet Jesus seemed to teach that it was all works-based.

What I eventually came to understand is that Jesus was teaching the Old Covenant to those who were under it (Israel), for the purpose of showing them that they were not keeping it (and could not keep it), and they instead needed to turn, by faith, to this other covenant that was based upon God's oath to Himself and not their ability to keep a covenant with God."


Next, from Mike, The Golden Rule: A Spiritual Death Sentence (Podcast 658).

"Here is one of my top 5 favorite Growing in Grace podcasts of 2018. It takes a traditional mindset 'head-on' with the subject of The Golden Rule as stated by Jesus:

'So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets' (Matthew 7:12).

Traditional Christianity has mistakenly mixed this law from the Old Covenant into church tenets and creeds. With one sentence He summarized the entire law which nobody could keep and it brought a sentence of guilt, bondage and death … not life. There is a better way."


Another of Joel's favorites from 2018: The Gospel Is the Gift of God's Righteousness. (Podcast 665).

"Back to the basics with this one. We talk about questions such as What is the gospel? and How does it differ from the 'bad news?'  The 'bad news' is that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, but yet the 'good news' - the gospel - is that God justifies ungodly people by gifting them with His very own righteousness.  The gospel reveals the righteousness of God that is given as a gift to those who do nothing but believe. Those trying to attain righteousness by their own works don't find it, and yet it's given freely to those who aren't even trying.  This episode is one of my favorites because it's a great reminder to me that I have nothing to boast about before God, and I can stop trying to perform for God in order to attain or maintain right standing with Him.  I've already received it, solely as His gift to me."


We hope you enjoy our year end picks!  Do you have any favorites?  If you'd like to hear more, check out the "Most Popular Posts" in the column to the right, which lists the most viewed posts on this website in the last year.

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Sunday, December 23, 2018

683. Merry Christmas from the Growing in Grace Podcast

After another year of talking about God’s goodness and grace, Christmas gives us a week to reflect upon the birth of Jesus and the miracle of His birth. But on this week’s program, we also discuss his human boyhood and how He grew in wisdom and stature. Other topics this week include The Three Stooges, Adam’s age when he was first created… also the wise men and how tradition has “photoshopped” them into the manger scene.

We're looking forward to returning in the new year with a whole bunch of brand new Growing in Grace podcast episodes, talking about the Good News of Jesus! We're taking a short break from recording next week, but do come back here to, as Mike and Joel will reflect on 2018 by sharing a few of their favorite episodes from the past year.

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Sunday, December 16, 2018

682. 1 John 1:9 (Part 6) Bottom Line: Acknowledging Sin Leads to A Confession of Jesus

This is the sixth and final program from our recent series on the Bible verse of 1 John 1:9. We summarize with the conclusion that the Apostle John was not instructing believers in Jesus Christ to continually confess all of their sins to God in order to receive a fresh forgiveness every time they commit a wrongful thought or action. If repeated forgiveness were still needed from God for each sin, Jesus would have had to offer Himself repeatedly with the shedding of more blood. As we begin to see that John was addressing unbelieving people in the first chapter of 1 John - and then continue reading the other four chapters written to believers - we’ll begin to see the bigger point John is making… a confession of Jesus Christ.

To acknowledge a sinful condition leads (unbelieving) people to realize we have all fallen short of God’s perfect standard and have need of a Savior. His blood has brought forgiveness and cleanses us from all unrighteousness (once for all). Confessing the Son - the Word of Life - allows us to receive His life through belief, resulting in salvation and righteousness. It results in us abiding in Him; but to deny the Son is to deny God. As people who have been born of God, perfect love has guaranteed our forgiveness in Him is certain and we can now have boldness in the day of judgement… “because as He is so also are we in this world.”

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Sunday, December 09, 2018

681. 1 John 1:9 (Part 5) When a "Verse" Is Taken out of Context

There may be dozens of passages contained in New Covenant writings from the apostles about God’s permanent forgiveness that came through the cross of Christ, but frequently they are resisted by people who will stumble over a single “verse” which may appear to contradict the good news. 1 John 1:9 is just one example when it is not understood in the proper context with the rest of the gospel. When this scenario occurs, we should compare the verse in question and consider why it isn’t lining up with the other passages. After all, we’re growing in our understanding of God’s grace and the powerful message of the gospel.

Other examples include the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus was hammering the Mosaic law to Jewish people. Here He told them they would not be forgiven unless they first forgave others. How does that match up with the cross? It doesn’t. The “sermon” was not the gospel because there was no blood in it. That statement by Jesus was completely contrary to what the Apostle Paul stated on more than one occasion about our forgiveness after the cross (because two different covenants were being ministered between Jesus and Paul). Jesus was pointing out their inability to attain righteousness and forgiveness by what they do.

People will often say, “the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins.” In context, Jesus said the Spirit would convict the world of sin “because they do not believe in me.” Unbelievers need to understand the sin problem they were born into and why a Savior is needed. But Jesus said the Spirit would convict believers of righteousness. That’s who we are in Him… the righteousness of God, cleansed and perfected by His blood… no longer seeking His forgiveness over and over but living in it as we’re renewed day by day through the very life of God within us.

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