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Preacher on the Run…

Faith, Family, Ministry, and Everything in between

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Feature Friday (10/25/13)

imagesCertainly, faith is not exhaustive knowledge or complete understanding. Faith believes certain things that are unseen. But we do not believe the unseen things based on nothing. Faith is not a shot in the dark. Faith is not a good guess.” Great article on what faith is and why it is not irrational or insane. Enjoy, The Thumbtack of Faith!

As always, be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day.

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Feature Friday (10/18/13)

Live-stream-slide-for-GTYThis week I have been trying to catch as much of a controversial yet instructional conference. It is the Strange Fire Conference being held at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California. This is a local church known best for its leading pastor, John MacArthur. The conference has been addressing the charismatic movement and theology. Feel free to check it out yourself and as always I would love to interact with you about it. If you missed any or all of it you can catch up over at Grace to You!

Be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day.

Feature Friday (10/11/13)

one-red-paperclip-300x200Faith Like Paper Clips – “If God wants you to buy a house, you don’t need Him to increase your income. Even a paper clip, used rightly, can buy a house. And if God wants you to obey, you don’t need an increase in faith, if you are a believer you have enough faith. Just apply your faith and obey.”

As always, be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day!

Feature Friday (8/23/13)

likeSermons are not for Liking – Ever get asked that question at the end of your Sunday morning service, “How did you like the sermon?” “At the end of it all, “How did you enjoy the sermon?” is simply the wrong question to ask. Far better is, “What did you learn from the sermon?”

As always, be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day (and ask someone what they learned from the sermon)!

The Church: What is It? Recap

what-is-churchWhen we started this series on the church, we asked the question, “What is church?”. Over the past six weeks we have not only answered that question, but developed the idea of the church much more. We have answered questions like “What is the difference between the universal and local church?”, “Who is in the church?”, “How should the church worship?”, and  “How should the church interact?”. But let’s be honest, its hard to remember all of that over the course of six weeks. So today I want to recap and give the highlights of this series. So here goes…

What is the church? The church is an assembly of people who believe in Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior (Matt. 16:13-18). It is not a building, location, or place on a map. The church is not a building because buildings do not listen, pray, and cannot be gathered together (Matt. 18:15-17; Acts 12:5, 14:27). So when the church is discussed, we must understand that we are talking about a group of people who are bonded together by their common confession of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. He is the One who is in charge of their life, because He sacrificed His life for them (Eph. 5:23-30). However, it would be logistically impossible to gather all these people together in one place, which led to our second question…

What is the difference between the Universal and Local church? The universal church is the entire group of people, throughout all time, who confess Jesus as Lord. These are the people of any race, age, time zone, location, and era that have many things in common (Eph. 4:4-6), namely Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. But these believers are told to not forsake assembling together (Heb. 10:24-25)–enter the local church. The local church is simply a localized body of believers who have a common geographic location (Rom. 1:7, 1 Cor. 1:2, Gal. 1:2). So we see the local church is part of the universal church, merely separated by time or location. Which brings us to our third question…

Who is in the church? There are two main parts of the church–the head and the body. The head of the church is Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:22-23). He is the leader, director, master, and essential part of the church. The body, on the other hand, is made up of all believers in Jesus Christ. But even within the body, there are two offices of leadership God established. The first of these offices is leaders (Eph. 4:11-12), also called elders, pastors, and bishops throughout Scripture. The second office is that of servants (Acts 6:1-6), known as deacons. While it is important to recognize these offices and individuals, the church is not complete without the entire body (1 Cor. 12). The very mentioning of differing individuals in the body of Christ led us to our fourth question…

How should the Church interact? There are three main ways the church is called to interact in the Scriptures including: fellowship, service, and unity. Fellowship is the life of the body; it is the members of Christ’s body caring for one another, discipling one another, and spending time together around God’s Word (Acts 2:42, 46; 2 Pet. 1:3; 2 Tim. 3:15-17). Service is the body caring for each other and others. This is the body looking out for others above themselves and keeping their minds set on Christ (Acts 2:45, James 2:14-16, Luke 12:33-34). Unity is how the body interacts toward one another simply because of the unity Christ has accomplished for us all (Acts 2:44, 47; Eph. 4:2-6; 1 Cor. 1:10). Which should always remind us of the answer to question number five…

How does the Church worship? We must understand that the church worships God alone for this is what He demands and deserves (Ex. 20:3-6). It is God alone who is worthy of our worship and He must be the reason we meet every time we get together. The church also worships in spirit and in truth (Jn. 4:23-24). The church must worship passionately and with emotions which have been given by God. But it must worship passionately and emotionally only that which is true (aka God as He has revealed Himself in Scripture). Finally, the church must worship constantly–it cannot be a once a week activity (Rom. 12:1-2). Because our entire lives are sacrifices of worship to God, we came to question number six…

What are the Church’s ordinances? The ordinances are symbolic ceremonies regularly done because they are prescribed by God and because they proclaim the Gospel. There are two such practices for the church: baptism and communion. Baptism is the identifying of oneself with Christ in death to self and sin, and a raising of oneself with Christ (Matt. 28:19; Rom. 6:4). It is proclaiming to the world that you are on Christ’s team. Communion, on the other hand, is a reminder of what Christ has done for us on the cross and a proclamation of that truth until He comes (1 Cor. 11:26). It is the practice of  keeping our minds, hearts, and lives on Christ and giving thanks to Him for His sacrifice.

golgotha-01So there you have it…a quick and concise recap as to what the church is, the difference between the universal and local church, who is in the church, how the church interacts, how the church worships, and what the church’s ordinances are. If you missed any of the series, please click the links above. Otherwise thanks for reading, and I hope it was helpful in forming your understanding of Christ’s body, bride, and institution in the world. Remember Christ gave His life for the church…what are you doing for it?

The Church: What are its Ordinances?

fallsportspreviewFall is upon us, which means school is right around the corner and with the school year starting sports teams are gearing up and getting ready as well. I remember this time of year when I was in high school. There were a few days of tryouts for the team and then immediately the next week practices began. But one year in specific was unique, I was transferring schools and was not sure about my ability to make the team that fall. I went to the tryouts and at the end of the week was told I made the cut, I was on the team. So what did I do? I just calmly and naturally went about my weekend as I would normally…of course not! I was so excited that I had made the team I wanted (and feel like I did) tell everyone I knew, family, friends, and even some strangers. The even better part though came the next Monday when the team began to practice. We got to practice, I got to practice. What an exciting time. And you know what? God has given the church an even greater reason for excitement as well as a way to tell everyone who has made the “team” and a “practice” for them to carry out.  That’s what the ordinances of Baptism and Communion are: proclaiming who is on the team and practicing together.

First, what is an ordinance exactly? An ordinance can be defined as a symbolic ceremony regularly done because it is prescribed by God and proclaims the Gospel. It is something done routinely because it was commanded to accomplish a purpose. While some teach that there are more than two ordinances for the church to practice, we see only two prescribed by Jesus Christ in Scripture, baptism (Matthew 28:19) and communion (Matthew. 26:26-29).

Similar to how an excited teenager who has just made the sports team wants to declare to the world that he is on the team, a justified sinner who has just been made righteous through the blood of Jesus Christ  will desire to make it known to all. Jesus knew this and wanted to ensure a proper way to express this in not only words but deeds. Therefore, when Jesus was just moments before returning to heaven He left His disciples with one final command or commission, “Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them int he name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). We also see the early church practiced this regularly (Acts 2:41; 8:30-39; 9:17-18; 10:44-48; 16:14-15, 30-33; 18:8). We see that it was those who believed Jesus Christ was their Lord and Savior (Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:41) and those who had received the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17-18; 10:44-48) that were baptized. However, they were baptized for a reason.

baptism

The purpose of baptism was to identify oneself with the risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The intent of baptist was to declare to the world you have died to yourself, your wants, your desires, and been buried and resurrected with the Lord Jesus Christ who is now directing and commanding your life and sole devotion (Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12). This identifying with Christ is seen in the very act and method that baptism takes place. The word baptize comes from the Greek word baptizo, meaning to dip or to sink. This word was used when speaking about dying clothes. The only way for a white shirt to become completely black was to dip the entire shirt, not just sprinkle it, in a black dye. It had to be fully immersed. Even John the Baptist (who lets be honest has to be some authority on baptism, he was named after it…) baptized in places where water was plenty (John 3:23). And when Philip was uniquely led by the Spirit to climb into a strangers chariot and preach the gospel, the result was that Ethiopian eunuch accepting Christ as His Savior and “went down into the water…and came up out of the water” (Acts 8:38-39). How can you possibly go into and come out of water unless there is enough to be dunked in?

So what we see throughout Scripture is that Christ not only commanded this proclamation of being a part of His body, but the early church consistently practiced it. We also see that it was for those who identified themselves with Christ death, burial, and resurrection, aka His disciples. Finally we see that God did not remain silent on how baptism was to take place either, but that full immersion gives the external illustration of what has taken place internally (death, burial, & resurrection). But if baptism is merely the proclaiming that we are on the “team” what is practice? This is where Communion comes in.

Again, just like an excited teenager will be excited about the first day of practice once he has made the team (and practice is needed), believers in Christ once saved and baptized should practice reminding themselves of the Gospel that has saved them. This practice of reminding takes place at the Lord’s Supper or Communion. We see here as well that Christ commanded Communion (Matt. 26:26-29). Jesus with His disciples on the night before His arrest, trial, and crucifixion institutes a reminder for the disciples to come back to and remember what is about to happen after it has taken place. This as well was to be practiced by Christ’s disciples, those who were brothers in Christ as Paul describes them (1 Corinthians 11:33).  And it is in this 1 Corinthians passage that God, through Paul gives more clarification and teaching on practicing Communion.

CommunionBreadWine

The purpose of Communion was to “proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor. 11:26). In other words this regular practice was intended to remind all those who were saved by His grace and proclaimed it through baptism of the Lord’s death and the sacrifice He made on their behalf. It was in this practice where they recall what Christ did in His body, represented by the bread (1 Cor. 11:11:23-24; 1 Pet. 2:24) as well as what His blood accomplished (1 Cor. 11:25; Heb. 9:14-15) represented by the cup. And how often were they to remember and practice this ceremony?  While there is no set regularity given in Scripture, we can gather that it was to be done often as well as until Christ comes again (1 Cor. 11:26). But there was one other aspect to be considered prior to Communion and that is the worthiness of the partaker. Paul was correcting the Corinthian church for their lack of love for others and sacrifice for each other and goes on to inform them that there is an unworthy way to practice the Lord’s Supper and that there are consequences that go along with it (1 Cor. 11:27-32). So there was an aspect of discipline and consequences for not practicing correctly, similar to sports participation.

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Excitement for making a sports team is great, and I hope to enjoy that with my son one day (seeing as that ship has sailed in my life), but far greater is the salvation offered in Christ. But making the team is not the end, merely a beginning. It is in baptism that we see God wants and commands us to proclaim the change that has occurred in us. And it is at Communion where we practice reminding ourselves and others of the Gospel in community.

Have you excitedly proclaimed that you are on God’s team? Have been willing to follow in obedience the command of Christ to publicly proclaim Him? What about regular practice in remembering the gospel with other believers? Is Communion something you take serious and often? If not, why not? Christ commanded them!

Stay tuned for the seventh and final part of this series “The Church”. Up next: Recap. If you missed part 1: The Church: What is it?, part 2: The Church: Universal vs. Local, part 3: The Church: Who is in the Church, part 4: The Church: How it Interacts?, or part 5 The Church: How it Worships? read it here!

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