Archive for February, 2009

27
Feb
09

My Mouth will Speak the Praise of the LORD

Psalms 145:3-21 (ESV)
3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.
4 One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.
5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
6 They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness.
7 They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
8 The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.
10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your saints shall bless you!
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power,
12 to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. [The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.]
14 The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.
16 You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.
20 The Lord preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.
21 My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

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26
Feb
09

Spurgeon’s Burden

I want to share some words with you from the “prince of preachers” Charles Haddon Spurgeon these words were taken from sermons preached during the years of 1855-1889.

Spurgeon’s words are compelling, convicting and Christ honoring. I pray they will stir our souls to worship the Lord Jesus more fervently and move us to obey His commands more excellently.

The burden of a preacher…
“If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay…

Do we really believe that sinners will be damned forever? Do we think about their fate very often, if ever? Or do we busy ourselves in the work of the Lord, and never bother to implore them to come to the Savior? In general, the modern pulpit is deathly silent when it comes to the horrors of Hell. When do we hear preaching about the reality of the Lake of Fire or of the terrible wrath of God? Such themes aren’t popular with modern preachers. They never have been. They are not popular with me. Other topics are more attractive, but preachers must not ignore the fate of the lost, because if we do, we run the risk of it also being ignored in the pews…

If we don’t implore the world to turn from sin it’s because we don’t truly believe God’s Word. We cannot be so deathly cold, so evil-hearted as to not care. We haven’t let the reality of Hell sink into our minds and soften our hard hearts. The fact of its existence should horrify us beyond words, and then it should be reflected in our prayers and in our preaching.”

“The burden, which the preacher of God bears, is for God and on Christ’s behalf, and for the good of men. He has a natural instinct, which makes him care for the souls of others, and his anxiety is that none should perish, but that all should find salvation through Jesus Christ…”

“You cannot preach conviction of sin unless you have suffered it. You cannot preach repentance unless you have practiced it. You cannot preach faith unless you have exercised it. You may talk about these things, but there will be no power in the talk unless what is said has been experimentally proved in your own soul. It is easy to tell when a man speaks what he has made his own, or when he deals in secondhand experience…”

The proper use of the Bible…
“Defend the Bible? I would as soon defend a lion! Unchain it and it will defend itself!”

“The sermons that are most likely to convert people seem to me to be those that are full of truth, truth about the fall, truth about the Law, truth about human nature and its alienation from God, truth about Jesus Christ, truth about the Holy Spirit, truth about the Everlasting Father, truth about the new birth, truth about obedience to God and how we learn it, and all such great verities. Tell your hearers something, dear bretheren, whenever you preach, tell them something, tell them something!”

“Preach Christ or nothing; do not dispute or discuss except with your eye on the cross.”
“They will never accept grace till they tremble before a just and holy Law. Therefore, the Law serves a most necessary purpose, and it must not be removed from its place…
The Law is the surgeon’s knife that cuts out the proud flesh that the wound may heal. The Law by itself only sweeps and raises the dust, but the gospel sprinkles clean water upon the dust, and all is well in the chamber of the soul. The Law kills; the gospel makes alive. The Law strips, and then Jesus Christ comes in and robes the soul in beauty and glory. All the commandments and all the types direct us to Christ, if we will heed their evident intent.”

“I do not think I can preach more, for a faintness has come over me, nor is there need for more if you will but chew the cud of this one precious truth: Jesus is the Lamb which God provided, and He is the Lamb, which God Himself presented at the altar. Yet, I must rouse myself to say a little more. Who was it that sacrificed the Lamb of God? Who was the priest on that dread day? Who was it that bruised Him? Who put Him to grief? Who caused Him the direst pang of all when He cried, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” Was it not the Father Himself? This was one point in the hardness of Abraham’s test – “Take now your son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and offer him a sacrifice.” He must himself officiate at the sacrifice. This the great Father did! He is the Lamb, the Lamb of God. And now today the bright side of this truth remains. He is the Lamb that God always accepts, must accept, glories to accept. Bring but Jesus with you, and you have brought God an acceptable sacrifice.”

20
Feb
09

Mission All

We hear a lot of talk in Christian circles today about going into the mission field but just what is our mission and where is the mission field located?

When it comes to the issue of missions we all tend to think about third world countries, swamps and mountainous tribal people but what about the mission field in our neighboring cities?

What about those cities and towns all around us that are filled with man-centered churches rather than Christ-centered churches.
There is no shortage of “program” driven groups organized by men who are great motivators but where are the Bible-driven churches that are filled with men who are called by God to be humble expositors?

Maybe our mission field is closer than we think.

What is our mission?
The Apostle Paul gave Timothy very powerful God inspired instruction regarding this very issue in 2 Timothy. “Preach the Word” Timothy that is your mission.

2 Timothy 4:1-2 (ESV)
1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:
2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

Our mission is to feed people the life giving Word of God.
This task is not limited to taking the gospel to people in far off lands. We are also called to take the Word of God to all those who are starving and in need of the bread of life.

We are commanded by the Lord Jesus to go into the entire world and make learners, baptize believers and teach them to observe what Christ commands. This commission was given to the church hence the need of planting new churches in areas where this is not being accomplished.

This commission is not aimed at just going to a foreign land or our respective communities and just dropping gospel crumbs and leaving. We are called to go and proclaim the Gospel and establish biblical churches.
This commission encompasses going to all people wherever they are and feeding them the bread of life one verse at a time, reproving, rebuking, exhorting and patiently teaching those who are starving for the truth. This mission requires the establishment of biblical churches. Once churches are established they are to prayerfully continue sending others out to plant new churches elsewhere.

The church of Jesus Christ was established to equip the saints for ministry so that we might take the gospel to those all around us and this commission is given to local churches. Imagine how wonderful it would be to be able to send new converts to a city and know that in that city there is a solid bible teaching church. That desire will not be fulfilled until someone obeys Christ’s commission to go into the entire world and see churches established for the glory of God.

If you have eyes to see you will notice that the mission field is all around us. Today we are experiencing a famine of great proportions even here in the Bible belt and the need for biblical churches here may be greater than ever before. The result of this famine is that souls that are hungry for truth and seek to hear the Word proclaimed in the church find themselves starving because the Word has been set aside in many pulpits today. Sadly many pulpits have exchanged proclamation of the Word for programs of the world.

The need is all around us and the need is great but the solution is greater!
2 Timothy gives a clear warning about the problem and Paul gives us the biblical solution, “do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

2 Timothy 4:3-5 (ESV)
3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

The churches work and mission is to proclaim truth not engineer new programs.
It is painfully obvious that many church programs we see today within evangelicalism are geared to relieve itching ears. I say this brokenheartedly I am not trying to be pious but I am trying to be honest about the need in our day. So I sadly realize that many have abandoned the God ordained means of ministry and life transformation for man-made attempts to improve our lifestyle. This does not have to be so because God has given us His all sufficient Word and Spirit that gives “all things that relate to life and godliness.”

The church of Jesus Christ has not been commissioned to improve your lifestyle. The church was commissioned to proclaim God’s objective truth as revealed in scripture. The Word of God has the inherent power to change the hearts and lives of all that believe. So the overarching mission of the church is to bring the people of God this life giving Word of truth. This is accomplished by a clear-impassioned precise explanation of the Word of God. Biblical exposition brings the Words of eternal life to those who have ears to hear and transforms people into instruments of God’s grace. Those transformed by the Word will go into the world around them and that is the mission of the church.

Over the last two years the Lord has opened my eyes and my heart to see this desperate need in our communities and has provided a solution. Souls need to be fed and led to the living water and bread of life found in the Holy Scriptures.

There are souls all around us who are hungering and thirsting after God’s glorious Word yet they have no place to go to find food nor drink. As I look out over the spiritual landscape of the Bible belt I am all to aware that even with all that is around us many are starving to death in communities where church buildings abound.

Those who are starving for God‘s Word often look in vain for life giving truth in many pulpits today. Many people are looking for spiritual food and instead find man-made placebos proclaimed in the pulpit rather than God ordained truth. This compels me all the more to reconsider why those who are called to ministry must take up the commission of Christ and go wherever the need arises.

The need is great all around us and the saddest part is that many men behind those pulpits do not even know that they are replacing the life giving Word in exchange for bankrupt systems of the world. I believe this has happened because many of today’s church leaders are more informed by Wall Street and Corporate American rather than by reading their Bibles. Just look where Corporate America has led us lately, right into bankruptcy and decline this is not the model the church should follow.

We are called to be mission minded and willing to bring people the solution.
When it comes to fulfilling our mission we are given a divine solution that is based on an infallible Word that contains eternal promises. The great commission is most easily displayed in the establishment of Word-centered churches. The restoration of souls and the recovery of our churches within the Bible belt is necessary today and possible by God‘s sovereign grace. That restoration and recovery must start by men willing to step out and see new churches planted for the glory of God. Men of God must be willing today to take this radical step because all to often those who have been called to stand on the rock of the Word in all to many pulpits have slipped off into the sinking sand of the world.

Many of today’s leaders are spiritually bankrupt because they constantly seek to exegete the cultural rather than trying to learn how to exegete a text in context. All to often churches have built their ministry on the sandy ground of shifting culture rather than the solid rock of scripture.

Matthew 7:24-27 (ESV)
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.
26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.
27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Ephesians 4:11-16 (ESV)
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,
12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Sadly, today some churches have gradually replaced Bible exposition with man-centered medicine. These churches have reinterpreted Christ’s commission. Many think the mission of the church is to satisfy felt needs of sinful men rather than administering the life giving Words of God that exposes the heart of sinful men and ministers to our real need of salvation and sanctification. The mission of the church is to administer the double-edged sword of God’s Word. The Word of God alone accurately handled can plunge into the heart and bring healing in its wake this is the churches mission as ordained by God.

Hebrews 4:12-13 (ESV)
12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

It is now obvious the mission field is closer than you may have realized.
Just look around and when you see men and women starving as they roam from church to church in search of life sustaining food and fellowship you know you have arrived at your mission field. The only way to end this famine and feed the starving is for someone to take the life giving Word of God to these dying souls.

Who should be going into our neighboring communities reaching the lost and feeding the saints? That mission must begin with those who are called and equipped and willing to go out into the neighboring cities, and to the ends of the earth to establish Bible-driven churches that shepherd the flock of God and love His sheep.

2 Timothy 2:1-2 (ESV)
1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,
2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

Here is our own domestic mission field.
The mission field is in plain sight and our mission is clear to those who have eyes to see. The mission should begin with prayer and then move us into action. We must long to see the establishment of biblical Christ honoring churches in every city. The mission is to see churches established that would faithfully hold forth the scriptures. We must strive to accomplish this mission through expositional teaching and expositional living and loving one another according to scripture. We see the power of that kind of missionary effort in the book of Acts as well as in Paul’s pastoral admonition to Timothy.

Acts 2:42-47 (ESV)
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.
44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common.
45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.
46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,
47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

1 Timothy 3:14-15 (ESV)
14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that,
15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of truth.

The mission of planting gospel-centered churches is not some new revelation.
God has ordained the establishment of Word-driven churches at Pentecost. The church is God’s ordained means of reaching the world with the Gospel of Christ. It is not a new revelation to go establish churches when the need appears and it is obvious that there is a real need all around us today.

The good news is that there is a real solution for those who desire to see God’s name honored among the nations around us today and desire to obey His call.
Those who are called and qualified should fearfully and joyfully obey this call. There should be a burden, a passion and a prepared heart and life.

This is not a small undertaking. I have observed in others who have planted gospel driven churches that this is a labor of love but it is most assuredly laborious. The price may be great but I do not think from what I have observed that there could be any greater joy for the man of God than to see God‘s people in every city loving and living in His Word.

Now that we see the need and know where the mission field is the next question to ask is when should people go into this mission field?
Do we wait until we have forty people or more or funding from other groups? Or could it be that God might use a handful of people that resemble Gideon’s army so that He gets the glory and not us?

Maybe God could use just twelve people or maybe even one or two, to turn the world upside down, establish churches, care for the hurting, proclaim liberty and set the captives free!

“We are not mighty, noble or strong” but by God’s grace and for His glory those gifted and called can go and must go. Those called will also want to go into the world and proclaim God‘s gospel message of sovereign grace and establish Christ exalting churches for His glory and the good of His people.

Soli Deo Gloria

Pastor Randy

12
Feb
09

A Compelling Commission

Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Ephesians 3:8-12 (ESV)
Through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord,
12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

Through the Church the manifold wisdom of God is made known, through the Church God has called us to reach  all the nations as well as the communities we live in. Through the church people are to be discipled, baptized, taught and edified through the explantion of God’s Word so that the eternal purpose of God would be accomplished. That purpose is to open blinded eyes to the glorious light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the glory of God the Father.
God compels us to obey this commission.

This subject has been heavy on my heart for sometime now.
As hard as I try I cannot escape the burden I see all around, it seems God has captured my heart and my mind regarding this need.

It breaks my heart to think about the how great the need is for “gospel-driven” churches that preach the Word in season and out through exposition and living, loving application.

This heartache can be a motive for heart-action, we must all commit to pray, plan and persevere in seeing the great commission accomplished through the planting of Christ-Focused churches. I see the need all around and yet as I look around I see that we need to be compelled to obey this command. Pray this my heartache will produce heart-action.

God has given us a compelling commission.
In the excerpt from the article below Mr. Newton helped me see this need with new eyes.

Phil Newton – Founders Journal
In a given community where there are plenty of church buildings with dying congregations limping through the motions of Christian worship but no viable gospel ministry, no passion for the lost, no missionary spirit, and no one willing to engage the culture with the gospel, then it’s time to plant a church! The goal, however, is not to trample on the existing churches. Perhaps in God’s mercy, existing but lethargic churches will be reinvigorated by a new church planted in their area. The new church will focus on reaching the unchurched that the existing churches are not reaching; and the new church will become a refuge for gospel-starved believers that struggle through their membership in gospel-weak churches.

Accompanying biblical, theological and geographical reasons for new churches is the desire to see Christ magnified and honored through churches that are unashamedly gospel-driven. Not given to the latest fads or gimmicks to attract uninterested people, gospel-focused new churches seek to display in their relationships, worship, preaching and ministry the centrality of Christ’s glory in the church. Unfortunately, many existing churches are depressingly void of Christ’s glory. They have organization, programs, liturgy and money but the savor of Christ and His gospel is noticeably absent. They may draw numbers and claim converts but lack the distinctively biblical marks of a church. In such a setting, it’s time to plant a new church for the sake of Christ’s glory in a community.

The New Testament offers many images to describe the church: the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16), the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27), God’s household (Ephesians 2:19; 1 Timothy 3:15), dwelling of God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:22), the pillar and support of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15) and the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-32; Revelation 19:7-9). That last picture of the church as the bride of Christ reminds us of the constant goal that must motivate our church organization and ministry. Rather than being shaped by the marketing techniques of the world, the church must prepare for the eternal marriage with Christ. He gave Himself for the church to sanctify and cleanse her “by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:25-27). Yet many churches lack the evidence of Christ’s sanctifying work. Could it be that many are nothing more than religious organizations with Christian titles? New churches must be planted that live with the passion to do all that they do to the glory of Christ…
(full article is found on http://www.founder.org)

I am learning that God’s commission is irresistibly compelling to those called to this work. Those who are compelled must pray that God would establish new churches that preach the Word and carry out the great commission. We must pray that God would use whatever means it takes to see that happen even if it means using “clay pots” like ourselves so that His name would be great among the nations.
2 Corinthians 4:5-7 (NASB)
5 For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake.
6 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;

Pastor Randy

11
Feb
09

Balance and Priorities

I found myself re-reading this full article once again lately and once again very challenged by it and driven to put it into application by God’s grace in my own life and ministry. I pray this article helps you see the importance of balance and priorities in serving the Lord in whatever sphere He has called you into as well. (the full article is found on http://www.founders.org)

Understanding balance and priorities…

Pastor Tom Ascol
One of the greatest challenges I face in my life as a pastor is maintaining a proper balance in my priorities. Every pastor has several roles which he must fulfill in order to remain faithful to his calling. He must be a student of God’s Word. He must be a man of prayer. He must give leadership to the church. He must work hard to preach and teach the Word so that the people under his care are continually being formed by it into the image of Christ. He must do the work of an evangelist and he must give himself to personal work with individual members. All of this and more goes with the territory of serving Christ as an undershepherd of souls.

But every pastor is more than a pastor. He is first and foremost a disciple. Typically he also is a husband. And he will most likely be a father. In addition to this he may take on other ministry-related duties. How are all of these important roles to be fulfilled without sacrificing the best on the altar of the good? It is a daunting challenge under the very best of circumstances…

Each priority builds on the ones that precede it…

I cannot be a faithful pastor if I neglect the higher priorities of my wife and/or children. In fact, according to 1 Timothy 3:4-5, I am disqualified if such neglect characterizes my life. Nor can I be a faithful father if I fail my wife. On the contrary, one of the best things I can do for my children is to love their mother very well. And I cannot be a faithful husband if I neglect my relationship with Christ.

All of the priorities in my life can function with appropriate importance as long as I keep them in their proper place. But when a lower priority leaps above a higher, then I am setting myself up for a fall. It is spiritually disastrous to put my wife above my Lord, or my children above my wife, or my pastoral ministries above any of those three. It is no slight to the church that I serve that their place in my priorities comes after my devotion to Christ and family. On the contrary, the church gets more of what they need from me when I minister out of a conscious commitment to these priorities.

By remembering the priorities of these callings in my life, I am better able to establish and maintain balance in my obligations. Perhaps the most useful discipline to facilitate this balance is learning to say no. Spurgeon said that for a minister, learning to say no is of far greater value than learning Latin! He was right. No matter how much a pastor tries to do there will always be more to be done. Some good things which scream out for his attention should be left undone so that he can do what is better and best. When he has to make those hard choices, he should do so on the basis of the priority of his callings. Then he can take heart in knowing that he has acted in faith based on the claims which God has made on his life.

Robert Murray M’Cheyne who noted, “It is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.”[2]

10
Feb
09

Raising Children with Hope in God!

Helpful words about ministering to children from Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The church and the home provide an environment where God often does His saving work in the heart. Our obedience to God and our faithfulness as parents does not ultimately save our children from wrath, but it is very often the means by which God saves our children.

Similarly, our disobedience and unfaithfulness as parents does not necessarily condemn our children, but is often the means by which our children are led to destruction. God has ordained that parents bear the responsibility of acquainting their children with the Word of God and the life of faith.

Our success in this endeavor matters more to Him than it does to us, and He has made all the resources of heaven available to us. Therefore, we as parents and as a congregation must be faithful to teach our children to fear the Lord and to keep all His statutes and commandments and to love the Lord with all [our] heart . Statutes and commandments can easily be taught so that a child can remember them and repeat them back. We can also train our children to conduct themselves in certain ways and to maintain behavior which portrays godliness.

However, teaching them to fear and to love God in the fullest sense of those words is our greatest challenge. We want our children to not only know the truth but to embrace it with all their hearts lest it be said of them:

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God, or give thanks to Him. (Romans 1:21) or
They profess to know God but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed. (Titus 1:16)

Our children can know all about God. They can know endless Bible stories, and even have vast portions of Scripture memorized and yet not honor God or have fellowship with Him. They can live their lives knowing who God is and yet never meet Him until they meet him at the judgment seat and hear Him say, “Depart from Me. I never knew you.”

When we teach children we must aim for their hearts as well as their heads. We feel that more effort needs to be made to raise the expectations of parents and teachers of what God might do in the heart of a child in response to hearing the truth.

The prerequisite for nurturing faith in children is that parents and teachers must love God and love His word. It is almost impossible to teach something you have not experienced.

Children will not be excited about God unless those that are teaching them are excited about God. God will not be real to them if He is not real to us. If God is not real to the parent or teacher, if His word is not treasured and respected, then transferring a love for God and His Word is almost impossible.

Therefore, parents and teachers must be diligent in keeping their own hearts alive for the sake of their children.

A healthy love and fear of God is more easily cultivated in children that have a healthy love and fear of their parents. It is very difficult for children to learn to honor God if they defy their parents and resist their authority. It is very difficult to nurture a reverence for God and humility before Him when children are permitted to treat parents and adults in general with disrespect.

As a church we must be very earnest in our efforts to help our people be courageous parents. The permissiveness that is encouraged and taught in our culture, and which is rampant in the American church and evident in our own congregation, not only makes life miserable for those who have to be with our children but can lead our children to destruction.

Discipline your son while there is hope; do not set your heart on his destruction. Proverbs 19:18

We can model, teach and discipline in a way which encourages the heart to respond but only the Holy Spirit can effectually change the heart of the child. Therefore, priority must be given to intercession in any ministry to children and their parents.

Bethlehem Baptist Church

09
Feb
09

Sola Fida Conference

I was recently blessed by being able to attend the Sola Fida Conference at Countryside Bible Church in Southlake, TX. They have been holding a series of Conferences over the last few years dealing with the importance and implications of the five Sola statements that came forth out of the Reformation.
These doctrinal statements practically applied set the church free from Roman Catholic bondage and superstition. The statements set forth that man is saved according to Sola Scriptura (scripture alone), by Sola Gratia (grace alone), through Sola Fida (faith alone), in Sola Christus (Christ alone), to Soli Deo Gloria (to God be the glory alone). The conferences have been highlighting the essential nature and effectual nature of these doctrines rightly understood and applied to the Christian life.

Dr. Steve Lawson and Dr. James White spoke about how Justification and Regeneration come to us by faith alone.
“Regeneration is done in us, God is the surgeon who operates in us and gives us a new heart and Justification is done to us, God the holy judge who makes a declaration that we are now forgiven”. We are justified (declared right) based on the sinless life and substitutionary death of Jesus Christ alone. Nothing in our hands we bring but solely to the Cross we cling.

Dr. Steve Lawson spoke on the practical application of Sola Fida in the Christian’s life. Faith alone in Christ alone saves but when saving faith is granted by God it is never alone. Saving faith always produces good works because it is effectual faith and granted for that purpose. Ephesians 2:8-10

“Faith alone bring you a new standing and a new standing always leads to a new walk.”

Dr. Lawson spoke about how the effectual work of saving faith in the life of Jonathan Edwards drove him to live hard for the glory of God.
Edwards became one of the most influential Christian leaders in America and throughout the world.
“Jonathan Edwards was the greatest preacher, theologian, philosopher, and author that America has ever produced.”

Dr. Lawson went on to say that Edwards was considered to be great due to God’s grace not his own human intellect nor was it his giftedness as a preacher though that giftedness and intellect was great what truly made Jonathan Edwards stand out was his godliness. This godliness was wrought in him by the Spirit of God and it was his desire to walk out that godliness with “resolve”.

Edwards “Resolved” to pursue God’s glory in his life…that is what made him great!
“He had a godliness that surpassed his giftedness. Better to be godly than gifted.”

Edwards did not want to loose one minute of time to sin or selfishness he “resolved” to seek God’s glory in his life by living in a godly manner in speech, conduct and in his use of time itself.

Edwards Resolved to…
“Never to loose one moment of time but improve it the most profitable way I can.”

Edwards Resolved to…
“Never to do anything that I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.”

Dr. Lawson pointed out that Jonathan Edwards’ great ministry was due to the overflow and response of God’s gift of saving faith. Saving faith changes our heart and out of that changed heart our mouth speaks, our life is lived and as a result we become living epistles of Christ as we walk in sanctification we become a walking exposition of Christ Jesus.

The life that is “resolved” to love God with all our strength will also be “resolved” to live for God with all our strength through our speech and conduct and that is now possible and effectual thanks to saving faith. The man who despises or discourages godliness is a man who despises God and grieves the Holy Spirit.

We are called to pursue righteousness even after we have been declared righteous through Justification and the true believer takes great joy in his pursuit of godliness. This pursuit will stir in you a new “resolve” to live for God’s glory in every area of your life. This pursuit will curb your sinful appetites, it will make you hunger for righteous behavior, it will turn complainers into encouragers it will do all this because “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” God’s good pleasure is for you to magnify His grace and glory in your life and through saving faith He accomplishes His good pleasure in you and me!

2 Peter 1:2-8 (ESV)
2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,
4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge,
6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,
7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As I listened to Dr. Lawson speak about Jonathan Edwards I was reminded that great leaders like Edwards are remembered for their influence not their power. Edwards was not a pushy leader (“pushy leader” is an oxymoron – Christian leaders don’t push people, they lead in love and others follow out of admiration and love) Edwards was a slave of Christ and a lover of God’s glory. Leadership was not Edwards’ goal, Christ-likeness was his goal and desire. Consequently as we “resolve” to grow in Christ-likeness the more likely people will follow us as we follow Christ. 1Timothy 4:12-16

Faith alone saved Jonathan Edwards and that faith was not alone it continued to work in his life and that growth in tenderness and carefulness of speech produced fruit in his ministry. He tenderly pastored his flock, gently led them to green pastures of truth and guided them with his staff a little here and a little there through the valleys of life. He did all this not be being severe but being “resolved” to follow Christ and explain Christ Word and exegete Christ in his life. This was evident even when his flock turned against him. In Edwards’ farewell sermon to this erring flock he did not rail against them but chose rather to speak about the beautiful day when they would all be reunited in glory. He spoke of how these differences would be eternally washed away as they sang together around the throne of God with one voice. Even in his most hurtful moments Edwards was “resolved” to preach for the glory of God and the good of his flock.

Pastor Randy