Archive for the 'Discipleship' Category

20
Mar
09

I love the smell of Sheep!

As you may know we are embarking on a new journey in church planting in Ada, Oklahoma. This new ministry has given me much to pray and ponder about lately. In preparation for the journey I have been looking at the lives of other pastors in the past to help prepare my own heart to “shepherd the flock of God” in the present.

Lately I have found myself reading about the ministry of R.C. Chapman who was referred to by C.H. Spurgeon as “The saintliest man I ever knew.”

Men like Chapman and Spurgeon give me great hope and great guidance in serving as God’s undershepherd. The following thoughts from R.C. Chapman have been in my mind and heart for some months now and I have found them to be a source of joy. I love to hear fellow pastors express their joy and love in serving as undershepherds and their testimony only fuels my burning desire to honor Christ by loving His sheep. I find great delight in the pursuit of loving and leading Christ’s church as a result of testimony and advice I have discovered here in Chapman’s life and ministry. Much of the following is derived from Alexander Strauch and Robert L. Peterson’s booklet on “Agape Leadership”.

“For those who are to exercise any office in the Church – that of evangelist, pastor- it is not knowledge and utterance only which are needed; but also, and above all, grace and an unblameable [lifestyle]…

Our joy in Christ speaks a language that all hearts can understand, and is a testimony for Him, such as mere knowledge and utterance can never give…

The figure of the mote [log] in the eye [Matthew 7] shows what skill and tenderness he has need of who would be a reprover to his brother. Who would trust so precious a member as the eye to a rough, unskillful hand?…”

R.C. Chapman

Chapman was never rough or harsh with people. Describing him, a friend said that Chapman was ‘bold as a lion and gentle as a nurse.” His model of handling others was God himself…

Chapman once said:

“Do we meet with unkindness from brethren? Instead of shooting our bitter words at them, let us judge ourselves; and endeavor, in love and wisdom, to overcome evil with good.”

Chapman found no satisfaction when a problem of sin and unrepentance had to be resolved by disfellowship from the church. He continued praying for restoration. Chapman cautioned that we must remember God’s love toward us when dealing with the sin of others.

“In reproving sin in others, we should remember the ways of the Holy Spirit of God towards us. He comes as the Spirit of love; and whatever His rebukes, He wins the heart by mercy and forgiveness through Christ.”

As a good undershepherd Chapman was constantly looking out for his sheep individually. He desired to encourage and equip them to serve others in the body of Christ by the exercise of their spiritual gifts.

“The Church, the body of Christ,” he said “cannot rise above its present low estate until there be a conscience in the members of fulfilling each one his office in the body.”

Chapman believed his responsibility, as pastor was to help people individually as well as corporately develop their faith in the Lord by laboring alongside them one on one.

“The lonely, the mournful, the friendless, the tempted, the defected, the despised, the forsaken, the outcast, Christ will wait on each one of them, whatever his case, as though that one were His only charge.

By this exact and special oversight of each member of His body, how precious, how lovely, how glorious, does Christ appear!”

As wonderful as Chapman’ testimony has proved to be as a minister of Christ I find that the Apostle Paul sums up my heart and the heart of all men who desire pastoral ministry better than anyone in 1 Thessalonians.

1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 (ESV)

But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.

So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.

As I ponder the responsibilities of pastoral ministry I am reminded that pastors like other Christians are ambassadors of Jesus Christ – we are called to be His representatives to the flock!

Pastors must be known by their clean hearts, clean hands, and clean conversation.

These traits are only possibly by grace alone that is why pastors must lean upon Christ in order to lead like Christ.

Pastors are called to be examples for the flock to follow as they follow Jesus.

1 Timothy 4:11-12

Prescribe and teach these things.

Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.

“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.” – Robert Murray M’Cheyne

I love the smell of sheep!

Pastor Randy

Sovereign Grace Bible Church of Ada, Oklahoma

Dedicated to the doctrines of grace and expressing those doctrines with grace.

 

(A church plant in progress for the glory of God and the good of the saints!)

09
Mar
09

News – Good News!

If you have read anything below this posting this “news” will not surprise you too much.

As the Lord wills and guides we will soon be planting a new church in Ada, Oklahoma.

This desire was planted in my heart by God years ago and now and it seems through God’s providence He is causing that desire to grow upward!

We are very excited about this work and would like to ask you to pray that God would be glorified in and through the establishment of a biblically reformed evangelistic church in Ada.

I must say that the Lord is already moving providentially in ways I would have never imagined.

The Lord has brought many people and ministries alongside us to help guide and oversee this work as well as foundational families to help establish the work on solid ground.

We are dedicated to expository preaching as well as expository living.

We are dedicated to the doctrines of grace and expressing those doctrines with grace.

We are dedicated to proclaiming the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ to the city of Ada and the surrounding areas.

Please pray accordingly for us as we endeavor to be a “pillar and support of the truth” to our mission field.

To God be the glory in the Church.

I will keep you posted as we progress toward a start date and location.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about this ministry.

Pastor Randy Tyler

Dedicated to proclaiming God’s sovereign grace as the hope for sinners and strength for saints.
 

 

05
Mar
09

Religion or Revelation?

Ever notice the universal reality of how “religious” our world is today?
We live in a “enlightened society” and notice how highly religious we are.

Interesting facts: probably already outdated!
In our country there are many different religions.
Buddhism – 1.5 million +
Mormons – 13 million (worldwide)
Hindu – 1 million +
Agnostics – 1.4 million +
Atheists – 1.3 million +
Baha’i – 120 thousand +
Taoist – 50 thousand +
Scientology – 100 thousand +
Eckankar – 30 thousand +
Pagans/Wicca/Druids – conservatively – 1 million +

So conservatively we have millions of “Religiously” lost souls in America.

Why would I say they are “religious” and lost?
Every religion that is not based on “God’s Word” alone is a distortion of the one true God’s revealed truth.
The truth is only found in the 66 books of the Old and New Testament which reveals God’s will and way to heaven that comes to us by grace alone through faith alone in the finished work of Jesus Christ alone.
John 14:6 (ESV)
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

In truth all other religions according to Scripture are distortions of the reality of what Biblical Christianity teaches.
Scripture is clear that man can only come to God one way and through one truth that will grant us eternal life. We cannot come to God through any man-centered ideology, philosophy, religious experience or religious organization we can only come to God by faith in His revealed Word.

Mankind is religious by nature but we are regenerated by God’s revelation.

Let’s think about what religion is for a moment.
It is man’s attempt to reach God whereas regeneration occurs because God has reached down to man.
Mankind tries to find God by studying or sampling all the religions of the world.

This may prove insightful but it will not lead you to the true essence of “biblical” religion that is only found in God’s revelation – the Bible alone.

According to Scripture in order for religion to be true and accepted to God that religion must be based on what God has revealed about Himself in Holy Scriptures.
John 4:21-24 (ESV)
21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.
22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.
23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.
24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

The essential nature of religion is based on God’s self-disclosure.
“Religion is concerned with man’s relation to God, and man has no right or ability to accurately determine the nature of this relation. It is God’s prerogative to specify how man should be related to Him, and He does this in His divine word.”
Louis Berkhof

In the Old Testament “fear” of God moved the truly elect of Israel to view the Law as representation of God’s holiness.

This Law served to point out mankind’s failure to please God on their own merit.
That inability produced “fear” and fear drove them to depend on God’s mercy not their religious acts.
Genesis 15:1-6 (ESV)
1 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”
2 But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?”
3 And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.”
4 And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.”
5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
6 And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
Romans 4:2-3 (ESV)
2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”
Romans 5:1-2 (ESV)
1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

The whole sacrificial (religious) system was intended to produce trust in God’s mercy not the sacrificial system.

The religious system instituted by God displayed or pictured what was to occur within the heart of all the truly elect of Israel.

It was through that system that they learned to fear God and that drove the elect to depend on God alone to provide their atonement for sin.
That fear was shaped by God’s revelation.
Hebrews 10:1-18 (ESV)
1 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.
2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sin?
3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin every year.
4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me;
6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.
7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’ ”
8 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law),
9 then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He abolishes the first in order to establish the second.
10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.
12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,
13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.
14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,”
17 then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

The essence of true religion in Old Testament is the “fear” of God that came through His revelation (His self-disclosure) through His word that came to man.
Proverbs 1:7 (ESV)
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Job 28:28 (ESV)
28 And he said to man, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.’ ”
Psalms 19:7-9 (ESV)
7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.

Divine revelation effects the emotions, intellect and will of man and produces “awe-reverence” which is the essence of true religion.
Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)
1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

The New Testament shines more light on holy “fear” by showing us that “Fear entails Faith”.
Galatians 2:16-21 (ESV)
16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not!
18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor.
19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ.
20 It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
Romans 16:25-27 (ESV)
25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages
26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—
27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Again we see that the essential nature of religion is based on God’s revelation not man‘s imagination.

In the New Testament we see that “true religion” is based on faith in Christ’s atoning work of redemption not Law.

So in the New Testament we see that the “fear” of God moves us to seek Him by “faith” knowing we cannot appease this holy God on our own merit.

Holy fear then leads to holy faith.
A holy fear also protects against carelessness or heresy in religion.
Matthew 10:28 (ESV)
28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
Philippians 2:12-13 (ESV)
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,
13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Hebrews 12:28-29 (ESV)
28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,
29 for our God is a consuming fire.
Ephesians 5:15-21 (ESV)
15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,
16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,
19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart,
20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
2 Timothy 4:1-5 (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.
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.

Holy fear moves us to sorrow over offending our holy God.
2 Corinthians 7:9-10 (ESV)
9 As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.
10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

The essence of true religion can be defined as a “true fear of God based on His word as it reveals His holy nature through the Law and the Life of Christ.

That fear then moves the sinner to see his own nature in light of such holiness and drives the sinner to trust in God to justify him by faith alone in God’s mercy. Faith and fear are both revealed to the sinner through the self-disclosure of God through Holy Scripture. This revelation brings us into right relations with holy God through God the Son Jesus Christ atoning work on our behalf.

In the Old Testament this relationship was revealed to be necessary by God’s self-disclosure through the Law (his holiness). In the New Testament by Christ (the holiness of God incarnate) who displayed holiness by fulfilling the Law on our behalf.

This gracious act of God (His self-disclosure) produces in the man both “fear” that moves us to see ourselves in light of His holiness and “faith”.

Biblical based fear and faith drives man to trust in Jesus Christ’s holiness and Jesus’ righteous standing before God the Father not our own.
Romans 3:10-18 (ESV)
10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

True saving faith and fear moves us to complete dependence on God’s promise of eternal life. Dependence and trust in God produces obedience to His will out of love for His grace and this produces true religion and true worship based on God‘s revelation found only in Scripture.

1689 Baptist Confession of Faith
1. The light of nature shows that there is a God, who hath lordship and sovereignty over all; is just, good and doth good unto all; and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in and served, with all the heart and all the soul and with all the might.
Jer. 10:7; Mk 12:33

But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by himself and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshipped according to the imagination and devices of men, nor the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representations, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures.
Gen. 4:1-5; Ex 20:4-6; Mtt.15:3,8-9; 2 Kings 16:10-18; Lev.10:1-3; Deut. 17:3; 4:2; 12:29-32; Josh.1:7; 23:6-8; Mtt. 15:13; Col. 2:20-23; 2Tim. 3:15-17

2. Religious worship is to be given to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and to him alone;
Mtt.4:9-10; John 5:23; 2 Cor. 13:14

not to angels, saints, or any other creatures;
Rom.1:25; Col. 2:10; Rev. 19:10

and since the Fall, not without a mediator, nor in the mediation of any other but Christ alone.
John 14:6; Eph. 2:18; Col. 3:17; 1Tim.2:5

Pastor Randy

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

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