2010 Year-In-Review

It is always important to reflect on the Lord’s faithfulness on New Years. More than anything we should use this as a time to reflect on God’s faithfulness and give thanks to Him for His unfailing love and mercy which He has so richly lavished us with in Christ.

I am personally grateful for the ministry of Sovereign Joy Community Church (SJCC).

I am grateful that God has taken our church through so much expositional terrain.

I am grateful for the installment of our small group ministry where we can challenge each other to reflect further on the Word of God and challenge each other to apply His Word in our lives.

I am grateful for God’s enduring patience with us as a small church that still has a long way to go in many areas.

Most of all I am grateful for the people of SJCC, their eagerness to serve, evangelize, and it has also been encouraging to hear all the stories of God’s faithfulness to provide and sustain His people through many trials and tests. This has been the most meaningful aspect of pastoring at SJCC, seeing people’s lives changed through the Word of God. SJCC is our family and I look forward to seeing more people become involved, receive meaningful ministry and fellowship, become more involved in each other’s lives, and serve one another with eagerness and zeal as they seek to bring glory to God by our love for one another.

To all at SJCC, Happy New Years, Soli Deo Gloria!

Pastor Emilio Ramos

(the following is a 1 minute clip from Friday’s sermon where Pastor Emilio talked about this past year and the New Year):

[audio:http://mp3.sa-media.com/preview4/11111652190/11111652190.mp3]

______________________

As a church, we learned a lot and went through a lot of changes in 2010.

When we moved our website to SovJoy.com we also started hosting our sermons on SermonAudio, which gave us the ability to serve Christians all over the world with audio from our sermons. Here are some stats as of today:

Total Sermon MP3 Downloads:
Total number of times your audio has been listened to (stream + download).
7,654
Total Mobile Downloads:
Of the above total, the total number that are mobile streams or downloads.
249

Top 10 MP3 Downloads

195 Leadership Training Essentials • Steve Schneider
182 Preaching & It’s Content • Emilio Ramos
165 3 Aspects of Resurrection Life • Jay Jesuroga
159 Jesus Prays: Protect/Reprobate • Emilio Ramos
158 Principles Against Immorality • Jay Jesuroga
156 Trinitarian Gospel Unity • Jason Delgado
152 Contrasting Legalism & Faith • Emilio Ramos
150 God (Inaugural Service) • Emilio Ramos
148 Spiritual Unity in the Church • Alan Bowley
148 Apostasy in Progress • Emilio Ramos


Of the above downloads, here are the top 10 states that have downloaded our sermons since the beginning of 2010:

  1. TEXAS – 2,992 (downloads)
  2. CALIFORNIA – 792
  3. GEORGIA – 296
  4. NEW YORK – 138
  5. NEW JERSEY – 136
  6. WASHINGTON – 128
  7. MISSOURI – 125
  8. LOUISIANA – 110
  9. COLORADO – 106
  10. ILLINOIS – 93

And the top 15 countries!

  1. UNITED KINGDOM – 109 (downloads)
  2. CHINA – 106
  3. CANADA – 87
  4. AUSTRALIA – 73
  5. ITALY – 44
  6. NEW ZEALAND – 36
  7. NETHERLANDS – 26
  8. KOREA, REPUBLIC OF – 24
  9. MEXICO – 20
  10. INDIA – 20
  11. MALAYSIA – 17
  12. PHILIPPINES – 12
  13. INDONESIA – 12
  14. SINGAPORE – 10
  15. GERMANY – 10

When we started as a church we focused heavily on the gospel. In 2010, we of course have not left the gospel but we are going deeper into it as we continued to go through the Bible we are learning a lot of implications that the gospel has on our lives and on our church.

Here is a summary of the past year broken up by month:

J A N U A R Y * * * * *

  • Total MP3 Sermons Downloaded For January, 2010: 221

We started singing, as a corporate prayer,  “Jesus, With Thy Church Abide”:

[audio:http://sovjoy.com/mp3/hymn/Jesus%20With%20Thy%20Church%20Abide%20(with%201st%20person%20lyrics).mp3]

The preaching took us right into the heart of 1 John, teaching us that as true son’s of God how we ought to be discerning, have assurance, and how to love one another (because God first loved us as Emilio explains in the 2 minute clip below):

[audio:http://media02.sa-media.com/sermons010/12710928583prev3.mp3]

Children of God: The Who, When, & How Children of God: The Who, When, & How – 1 John 3:1-3

Contrast: God’s & Satan’s Children – 1 of 2 Contrast: God’s & Satan’s Children – 1 of 2 – 1 John 3:4-8

Love, Assurance & Obedience Love, Assurance & Obedience – 1 John 3:16-24

A Call to Discernment A Call to Discernment – 1 John 4:1

At the end of the month Pastor Emilio had the opportunity to preach at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar Missouri from 1 Tim. 4:1-5.

F E B R U A R Y * * * * *

  • Total MP3 Sermons Downloaded For February, 2010: 361
  • Grand Total MP3 Sermons Downloaded To Date: 601

We learned alot about the church. How, as a church to watch out for pride, how we ought to view ministers, and started learning about church discipline (here is Jay summing up the 1st four chapters of 1 Corinthians in 1 minute):

[audio:http://media05.sa-media.com/sermons033/21610727440prev1.mp3]

Paul’s Two Rebukes on the Church Paul’s Two Rebukes on the Church – 1 Cor. 4:6-13

Paul’s Fatherly Ministry Paul’s Fatherly Ministry – 1 Cor. 4:14-21

Biblical Church Discipline (Pt. 1 & 2) Biblical Church Discipline (Pt. 1 & 2) – 1 Cor. 5:1-5

M A R C H * * * * *

  • Total MP3 Sermons Downloaded For March, 2010: 498
  • Grand Total MP3 Sermons Downloaded To Date: 1,087

This month we learned more on discernment and dove even deeper into the topic of assurance and how Christian love is affected by the gospel (2 minute clip):

[audio:http://media02.sa-media.com/sermons011/3151064205prev2.mp3]

The Spirit of Truth & the Spirit of Error The Spirit of Truth & the Spirit of Error1 John 4:2-6

The Roots & Fruits of Christian Love The Roots & Fruits of Christian Love1 John 4:7-12

4 Ways to be Assured 4 Ways to be Assured1 John 4:13-16

4 Aspects of Perfect Love 4 Aspects of Perfect Love1 John 4:17-21

A P R I L * * * * *

  • Total MP3 Sermons Downloaded For April, 2010: 407
  • Grand Total MP3 Sermons Downloaded To Date: 1,496

This month we started off celebrating Resurrection Sunday and moving back in 1 Corinthians, which took us through an array of different topics. We talked about sexual immorality and ended the section on church discipline (2 minute clip):

[audio:http://media04.sa-media.com/sermons032/41210431484prev1.mp3]

3 Aspects of Resurrection Life 3 Aspects of Resurrection Life – Col. 3:1-4

Biblical Church Discipline (Pt. 3 of 3) Biblical Church Discipline (Pt. 3 of 3) – 1 Cor. 5:6-13

4 Aspects of Paul’s Rebuke 4 Aspects of Paul’s Rebuke – 1 Cor. 6:1-11

4 Principles to Help Us Avoid Sexual Immorality 4 Principles to Help Us Avoid Sexual Immorality – 1 Cor. 6:12-20

The elders and Jason D. also had the opportunity to go to T4G:

M A Y * * * * *

  • Total MP3 Sermons Downloaded For May, 2010: 645
  • Grand Total MP3 Sermons Downloaded To Date: 2,144

This month we learned a variety of topics including marriage, overcoming faith, love, assurance, sin leading to death, and prayer (2 minute clip):

[audio:http://mp3.sa-media.com/preview2/524101222560/524101222560.mp3]

4 Principles of Marriage 4 Principles of Marriage – 1 Cor. 7:1-7

The Children of God & What They Do The Children of God & What They Do – 1 John 5:1-5

The Testimony of the Triune God Concerning Jesus The Testimony of the Triune God Concerning Jesus – 1 John 5:6-9

The Beneficiaries & Purpose of God’s Witness The Beneficiaries & Purpose of God’s Witness – 1 John 5:10-12

Assurance, Prayer, & Deadly Sin Assurance, Prayer, & Deadly Sin – 1 John 5:13-17

This was also the month that we hosted Wretched Radio’s first ever Psalm 119 Conference on Discernment. Pastor Emilio got to preach on “Discernment in the Local Church”, and the next day we sang A Cappella for the first time during corporate worship.


J U N E * * * * *

This month we started making our sermons available through mobile phone apps and mobile browsers:

  • Total MP3 Sermons Downloaded For June, 2010: 864
  • Grand Total MP3 Sermons Downloaded To Date: 3,004
  • .. of that total, downloads via mobile phone for June, 2010: 8
  • Grand Total Downloaded via Mobile To Date: 11

This month we learned about the good of singleness, Christian vocation, and living to God’s glory in whatever our calling (2 minutes):

[audio:http://media06.sa-media.com/sermons022/616101337307prev1.mp3]

Living as You Are Called Living as you are called – 1 Cor. 7:17-24

2 Reasons Why Singleness is Good 2 Reasons Why Singleness is Good – 1 Cor. 7:25-31

We also had Steve Schneider (the missionary to Chile that we help support) talk about what he would be doing in Chile and preaching for us. Here is the 4 minute introduction that Pastor Jay gave about Steve:

[audio:http://media03.sa-media.com/sermons015/621101956160prev4.mp3]

June 20th Guest Preacher: Steve Schneider June 20th Guest Preacher: Steve Schneider – 2 Tim. 2:2

J U L Y * * * * *

  • Total MP3 Sermons Downloaded For July, 2010: 606
  • Grand Total MP3 Sermons Downloaded To Date: 3,603
  • .. of that total, downloads via mobile phone for July, 2010: 22
  • Grand Total Downloaded via Mobile To Date: 30

We finished up 1 John and moved into 2 John, learning about discernment, love, and about being Word-hearers AND Word-doers (4 minute clip):

[audio:http://media06.sa-media.com/sermons022/717101059554prev2.mp3]

4 Truths Every Christian Should Know 4 Truths Every Christian Should Know – 1 John 5:18-21

2nd John Intro: Author, Audience, & Theme 2nd John Intro: Author, Audience, & Theme – 2 John 1-3

Walk in Truth, Love, & Obedience Walk in Truth, Love, & Obedience – 2 John 4-6

Word-hearers & Word-doers Word-hearers & Word-doers – James 1:22-25

Walk in Discernment Walk in Discernment – 2 John 7-9

This month we also had baptisms:

At the end of the month Pastor Jay had the opportunity to preach at Southside Bible Church in Dever Colorado from Colossians 3:1-4.

A U G U S T * * * * *

  • Total MP3 Sermons Downloaded For August, 2010: 745
  • Grand Total MP3 Sermons Downloaded To Date: 4,373
  • .. of that total, downloads via mobile phone for August, 2010: 41
  • Grand Total Downloaded via Mobile To Date: 71

Moving back into 1 Corinthians we learned more about the benefits of being single, started learning about the Trinity, learning about creation, and started getting into Christian liberty (2 minutes):

[audio:http://media06.sa-media.com/sermons022/8910912563prev1.mp3]

Benefits of Being Single + Q&A Benefits of Being Single + Q&A – 1 Cor. 7:32-40

Christian Liberty: 3 Principles Christian Liberty: 3 Principles – 1 Cor. 8:1-13

Minister’s Liberty: Financial Support Minister’s Liberty: Financial Support – 1 Cor. 9:1-15

Paul’s Liberty Unused for the Gospel Paul’s Liberty Unused for the Gospel – 1 Cor. 9:15-18

Paul’s Gospel Passion Paul’s Gospel Passion – 1 Cor. 9:19-27

S E P T E M B E R * * * * *

We had our final service in Keller (Sept. 3rd):

And now meet in Haltom City. Upon moving to the new location Pastor Emilio wanted to acknowledge all those who have helped to serve the church thus far and give some encouragement as well (3 mintues):

[audio:http://mp3.sa-media.com/preview4/971068421/971068421.mp3]

In finishing up 2 John and moving into 3 John (and finishing it too), we learned more about imitating good (not evil), dealing with false teachers, prayer, church membership, and the blessedness of fellowship and doing it in true love (3 minutes):

[audio:http://mp3.sa-media.com/preview1/913108672/913108672.mp3]

Dealing with False Teachers & Ministry Insights Dealing with False Teachers & Ministry Insights – 2 John 10-11

The Blessedness of Christian Fellowship The Blessedness of Christian Fellowship – 3 John 1-8

The Doctrine of Church Membership The Doctrine of Church Membership – Selected Scriptures

Imitate Good NOT Evil Imitate Good NOT Evil – 3 John 9-15

O C T O B E R * * * * *

  • Total MP3 Sermons Downloaded For September, 2010: 676
  • Grand Total MP3 Sermons Downloaded To Date: 5,048
  • .. of that total, downloads via mobile phone for September, 2010: 38
  • Grand Total Downloaded via Mobile To Date: 109

We heard a special message on “The Great Commission”, finished up our 7 sermon series on Christian liberty, and moved into another controversial subject,  head coverings and the subordination of wives to husbands (4 minutes):

[audio:http://mp3.sa-media.com/preview1/11110732570/11110732570.mp3]

How to Avoid Spiritual Defeat How to Avoid Spiritual Defeat – 1 Cor. 10:1-13

Analogies Clarifying Christian Liberty Analogies Clarifying Christian Liberty – 1 Cor. 10:14-22

The Great Commission: Make Disciples! The Great Commission: Make Disciples! – Matt. 28:16-20

5 Elements that Regulate Christian Liberty 5 Elements that Regulate Christian Liberty – 1 Cor. 10:23-11:1

Reasons Why a Wife’s Role Ought to be Subordinate to Her Husband’s Reasons Why a Wife’s Role Ought to be Subordinate to Her Husband’s – 1 Cor. 11:2-16

N O V E M B E R * * * * *

  • Total MP3 Sermons Downloaded For November, 2010: 846
  • Grand Total MP3 Sermons Downloaded To Date: 6,890
  • .. of the downloads, total via mobile phone for November, 2010: 50
  • Grand Total Downloaded via Mobile To Date: 207

Pastor Jay finished going through his detailed exposition of the oft debated passage “faith without works is dead”, and Pastor Emilio began his exposition through Philippians, which is all about joy (2 minutes):

[audio:http://mp3.sa-media.com/preview4/118101841265/118101841265.mp3]

Faith, Works, & Justification: An Exegesis of James 2:14-26 Faith, Works, & Justification – James 2:14-26

Intro to Philippians: Paul’s Relationship to the Church in Philippi Intro to Philippians: Paul’s Relationship to the Church in Philippi – Selected Scriptures

Author, Recipients, & Greeting of Philippians Author, Recipients, & Greeting of Philippians – Phil. 1:1-2

Paul’s Thanksgiving Prayer Paul’s Thanksgiving Prayer – Phil. 1:3-8

How the Church’s Love Grows How the Church’s Love Grows – Phil. 1:9-11

This month we also started an alternative to Sunday Seminary. We started Sunday School for ages 0 to 7th grade.

D E C E M B E R * * * * *

Which brings us to our last month of the year where we dove into the first coming of Christ (His Advent), the Incarnation, and the Lord’s Supper (4 minutes):

[audio:http://mp3.sa-media.com/preview2/121310715330/121310715330.mp3]

Abuse of the Lord’s Supper Abuse of the Lord’s Supper – 1 Cor. 11:17-22

Lord’s Supper: Theological Truths Lord’s Supper: Theological Truths – 1 Cor. 11:23-26

The Incarnation: What, Why, & How The Incarnation: What, Why, & How – Selected Scriptures

Manner of Taking Communion Manner of Taking Communion – 1 Cor. 11:27-34

May God bless us in 2011!


Book Table: 5 New Books

We will have the following 5 new books for sale at our book table starting this Sunday (remember that all books are sold at the price that we got them for [many times cheaper than the list price] and are all approved by the church leadership and, we pray, are for you to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ):

Let the Nations Be Glad!: The Supremacy of God in Missions by John Piper

Draws on key biblical texts to demonstrate that worship is the ultimate goal of the church and that proper worship fuels missionary outreach.

John Piper offers a biblical defense of God’s supremacy in all things, providing readers with a sound theological foundation for missions. He examines whether Jesus is the only way to salvation and issues a passionate plea for God-centeredness in the missionary enterprise, seeking to define the scope of the task and the means for reaching “all nations.” The third edition has been revised and expanded throughout and includes new material on the prosperity gospel. The book is essential reading for those involved in or preparing for missions work. It also offers enlightenment for college and seminary students, pastors, youth workers, campus ministers, and all who want to connect their labors to God’s global purposes.

Long Story Short by Marty Machowski

Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God

Christian parents know the importance of passing the gospel story on to their children, yet we live in a busy world filled with distractions. Schedules collide, there is homework and yard work and dishes and laundry, the car’s oil should be changed, there are phone calls to make…and before you know it, everyone is getting to bed late again.

The Bible can seem like a long story for an active family to read, but when you break it down into short sections, as Marty Machowski does, family devotions are easy to do. Long Story Short will help busy parents share with their children how every story in the Old Testament points forward to God’s story of salvation through Jesus Christ. You won’t find a more important focus for a family devotional than a daily highlighting of the gospel of grace. Clever stories and good moral lessons may entertain and even help children, but the gospel will transform children. The gospel is deep enough to keep the oldest and wisest parents learning and growing all their lives, yet simple enough to transform the heart of the first grader who has just begun to read.

Ten minutes a day, five days a week is enough time to pass on the most valuable treasure the world has ever known. Long Story Short is a family devotional program designed to explain God’s plan of salvation through the Old Testament and is suitable for children from preschool through high school.

Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will by Kevin DeYoung

or “How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, etc.”

Hyper-spiritual approaches to finding God’s will just don’t work. It’s time to try something new: give up.

Pastor and author Kevin DeYoung counsels Christians to settle down, make choices, and do the hard work of seeing those choices through.

Too often, he writes, God’s people jump from church to church, workplace to workplace, relational circle to relational circle, worrying that they haven’t found God’s perfect will for their lives.

But God doesn’t need to tell us what to do at each fork in the road. He’s already revealed His plan for our lives: to love Him with our whole hearts, to obey His Word, and after that, to do what we like.

No need for hocus-pocus. No reason to be directionally challenged. Just do something.

Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp

…how to speak to the heart of your child.

The things your child does and says flows from the heart. Luke 6:45 puts it this way, “. . . out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” (NIV) Written for parents with children of any age, this insightful book provides perspectives and procedures for shepherding your child’s heart into the paths of life.

Christian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know by Wayne A. Grudem

Christian Essentials Made Plain and Simple

God doesn’t call every Christian to go off to seminary, but there are certain matters of doctrine—that is, the church’s teaching—that every Christian simply must know. Theology is important because what we believe affects how we live. If you’re a relatively new believer in Jesus, or if you’re a more mature Christian looking for a quick brush-up on basics of the faith, Christian Beliefs is for you.

This readable guide to twenty basic Christian beliefs is a condensation of Wayne Grudem’s award-winning book on systematic theology.

Faith, Works, & Justification: An Exegesis of James 2:14-26

In two sermons, Pastor Jay preached on James 2:14-26 which is the famous “faith without works is dead” passage. His sermon was based on a 30 page exegetical paper he did for school and wanted to provide it here as an additional resource to his sermons on this text since it is, as he says, an “often debated passage”.

He went on to say:

“I used the paper for the sermon and I thought that it would be profitable especially for those who like the languages and desire to go a little deeper into the passage. I feel that this passage is very important to understand biblical theology.”

The paper begins:

“Faith, works and justification in James 2 has created much controversy in the history of interpretation. Martin Luther said that the epistle of James is an ‘epistle of straw’. This paper will first demonstrate that there is no contradiction with Paul’s doctrine of justification by faith alone as he describes in Romans 4:1-8 and James 2:14-26. As a starting point we must say that these accounts must be harmonized. The two accounts that must be harmonized are James 2:24 (NKJV) where James states, ‘You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone’ and Romans 3:28 (NKJV), ‘For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.’…”

Download the entire paper in Word or PDF format.

The sermon outline deals with four aspects of true, saving faith:

True, saving faith is…

  1. Not an empty confession but a vibrant faith that works in conformity to the Word of God
  2. Demonstrated by works
  3. Not mere accent to a doctrinal creed
  4. Fleshed out by obedience
    1. The example of Abraham
    2. The example of Rahab

You can listen or download the audio for the first part of “Faith, Works, & Justification: Part 1” here or listen below:

You can listen or download the audio for the first part of “Faith, Works, & Justification: Part 2” here or listen below:

God’s High Calling for Women

Originally from Dec. 2009, but re-posted given it’s relevance to this past Sunday’s sermon:

Christina Jesuroga has been edified and highly recommends the following series  from 1 Timothy 2:9-15 for the women at our church to read or listen to:

Christian women are under tremendous pressure these days:

Get a job, don’t waste your education.

You’ll only be fulfilled if you succeed in your career.”

You need a new look, then you’ll be happy.

We can’t afford to lose your income, you have to work.

Even, “Mommy, don’t go.

But is the world’s model for womanhood the best there is?

In his study, God’s High Calling for Women, John MacArthur sorts out the New Testament’s encouraging instruction to women on their role, appearance, attitude, testimony, and contribution to the Lord’s work—the true path to fulfillment.

You can read or listen to this four part series below:

Part 11 Timothy 2:9

  • Read | Download | Listen below:
  • [audio:http://webmedia.gty.org/sermons/High/54-14.mp3]

Part 21 Timothy 2:10-11

  • Read | Download | Listen below:
  • [audio:http://webmedia.gty.org/sermons/High/54-15.mp3]

Part 31 Timothy 2:11

  • Read | Download | Listen below:
  • [audio:http://webmedia.gty.org/sermons/High/54-16.mp3]

Part 41 Timothy 2:12-15

  • Read | Download | Listen below:
  • [audio:http://webmedia.gty.org/sermons/High/54-17.mp3]

Women’s Ministry in the Local Church

Having just dealt with issues that relate to women in this past Sunday’s sermon, here are some articles from 9Marks’ eJournal for older women and young moms:

________________________

Wanted: More Older Women Discipling Younger Women

By Susan Hunt

Titus 2 commands it. Younger women are hungry for it. The church as a whole will benefit from it. So where are the older women who will disciple younger women?

Read more >

________________________

For the Young Mother: Ministry, Guilt, and Seasons of Life

By Jani Ortlund

Young mothers face enormous demands that consume all the energy they have. Here’s why they shouldn’t feel guilty for focusing on the home rather than outside ministry.

Read more >

________________________

Read the entire eJournal:

Christian Liberty Summarized

We are in the middle of our sermon series through 1 Corinthians with Pastor Jay Jesuroga. We have just finished up going through 1 Corinthians 8-10 (in 7 sermons) which is all about the issue of Christian Liberty.

In the first sermon, during the intro, Pastor Jay gave a 2 minute overview of chapters 8-10, which are all dealing with Christian liberty:

[audio:http://media06.sa-media.com/sermons022/8910912563prev1.mp3]

Pastor Jay liked  John Feinberg’s suggested eight tests for moral decision-making in matters that are not absolutes (issue that deal with Christian Liberty):


– The first question is, am I fully persuaded that it is right? Paul says (Rom 14:5, 14, 23) that whatever we do in these areas, we must be persuaded it is acceptable before God. If we are not fully persuaded, we doubt rather than believe that we can do this and stand acceptably before God. If there is doubt, Paul says, there is sin (v. 23). So if there is any doubt, regardless of the reason for doubt, one should refrain. In the future, doubt might be removed, and then one could indulge; but while there is doubt, one must refrain.

– Second, can I do it as unto the Lord? Whatever we do, Paul says, we must do as unto the Lord (Rom 14:6–8). To do something as unto the Lord is to do it as serving him. If one cannot serve the Lord (for whatever reason) in the doing of the activity, he should refrain.

– Third, can I do it without being a stumbling block to my brother or sister in Christ? Much of Romans 14 (vv. 13, 15, 20–21) concerns watching out for the other brother’s or sister’s walk with the Lord. We may be able to indulge, but he or she may not have faith to see that the activity is morally indifferent. If he or she sees us participate, he or she may be offended. As much as possible, we must avoid giving offense in these areas. This, however, does not mean one must always refrain. Paul’s advice in 14:22 is helpful. For one who believes he can indulge, his faith is right, but let him have it before God. In other words, he need not flaunt his liberty before others. It is enough for him and the Lord to know he can partake of these practices. In sum, if one truly cares about his brother’s or sister’s walk, sometimes he will refrain, and at other times he will exercise his liberty privately.

– Fourth, does it bring peace? In Rom 14:17–18 Paul says the kingdom of God is not about things such as the meat we eat or what we drink. Instead, it is about righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Thus, believers should handle these matters so as to serve Christ. How would one do that? Paul instructs us (v. 19) to do what brings peace. Certain practices may be acceptable for one person, but if others saw him indulge, it might stir up strife between them. Hence, one must do what brings peace.

– Fifth, does it edify my brother? The command to do what edifies is in the same verse as the charge to do what brings peace (14:19). By juxtaposing the two demands, Paul makes an important point. Some activities may not create strife with another Christian, but they may not edify him either. One must choose activities that both bring peace and edify.

– Sixth, is it profitable? In 1 Cor 6:12 Paul addresses the issue of Christian liberty, and he reminds believers that morally indifferent practices are all lawful, but they may not all be profitable. They may be unprofitable for us or for our brother. For example, no law prohibits moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages or social dancing, but if my indulgence in either of these activities causes a brother to stumble, it is unprofitable for me to indulge. If the act is unprofitable, I must refuse to do it.

– Seventh, does it enslave me? (1 Cor 6:12). Many activities, wholesome and valuable in themselves, become unprofitable if they master us more than Christ does. As John warns, Christians must not love the world, but are to love God instead (1 John 2:15ff.). It is not that everything in the world is evil and worthless. Rather, our devotion and affections must be focused first and foremost on God. If we are to be enslaved to anything or anyone, it must be Christ.

– A final test is, does it bring glory to God? Paul discusses Christian liberty in 1 Corinthians 10, and in verse 31 he sums up his discussion by saying that whatever we do in these areas should bring glory to God. How does one know if his actions bring God glory? We would say at the least that if one answers any of the other seven questions negatively in regard to a particular activity, he can be sure he will not bring God glory if he indulges. Conversely, if the activity is acceptable on those other grounds, it should be acceptable on this ground as well.

In sum, Scripture distinguishes between actions covered by moral absolutes and those that are not. Believers must make up their own minds (under the Holy Spirit’s leading) on what to do in matters of Christian liberty. Personal preferences must not be imposed on others. In deciding what to do, one should use these eight tests taught by Paul. Each one must answer those questions honestly before God. Whatever decision stems from that process of questioning, each must have the integrity to obey.


From the second edition of Ethics for a Brave New World, due out in November. (via Justin Taylor)

Here are the 7 sermons on this issue:

Christian Liberty: 3 Principles Christian Liberty: 3 Principles – 1 Corinthians 8:1-13

Minister’s Liberty: Financial Support Minister’s Liberty: Financial Support – 1 Corinthians 9:1-14

Paul’s Liberty Unused for the Gospel Paul’s Liberty Unused for the Gospel – 1 Corinthians 9:15-18

Paul’s Gospel Passion Paul’s Gospel Passion – 1 Corinthians 9:19-27

How to Avoid Spiritual Defeat How to Avoid Spiritual Defeat – 1 Corinthians 10:1-13

Analogies Clarifying Christian Liberty Analogies Clarifying Christian Liberty – 1 Corinthians 10:14-22

5 Elements that Regulate Christian Liberty 5 Elements that Regulate Christian Liberty – 1 Corinthians 10:23-11:1

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