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Thursday, September 13, 2012


The writings, videos, blogs, and news are filled with conversations upon the subject of homosexuality.  The enormous amount of talk has led to numerous controversies and misunderstandings regarding the subject.  The Christian voice has been labeled as hateful and intolerant.  Numerous Christians have been thrown under the proverbial bus of the unloving religious people.  The Christian is made out to be the bad guy who is condemning everyone else.  The church is seen to be uncaring and even mean.  Surely there is some hate, anger, and tension floating around the world over this controversial subject and many people are being affected by all the noise.

I as a Christian would like to comment from the side of genuine Christians.  The accusations of Christians being unloving and uncaring are false accusations.  These types of blanket statements that are put upon Christians by the homosexual group are slanderous and false.  I am sure that are some bad representations of Christianity in the world, but simply because some have given Christianity a bad name does not mean genuine Christians are that way.  Just because a few loud arrogant mouthed people who claim Christianity are on the internet and public spotlight does not mean that everyone is like them.  

Christianity and homosexuality must be judged from the same source.  In other words, to know what a true Christian is one would need to do a thorough examination of the Scripture.  What does the bible say a Christian is?  A Christian is one who has repented and believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation (Acts 20:21).  A Christian is one whose old nature has passed away and has been given a new nature which loves God and hates sin (II Corinthians 5:17-21).  A true Christian is one who loves his brother (I John 1:9-11).  A true Christian is one who takes the gospel to the whole world, proclaiming the person of Christ, so that people would have the opportunity to repent and believe upon Christ (Acts 8:4-5, 12, 25, 35).  A true Christian demonstrates love to sinners like Jesus did.  Jesus demonstrated love to the Samaritan woman (John 4), the woman caught in adultery (John 8), Zacchaeus (Luke 19), and he was known as a friend of sinners (Matthew 11:19).

Homosexuality must be examined from the same source to be properly judged.  The law of Moses says, "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination" (Lev. 18:22).  Moses also says, "If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination" (Leviticus 20:13).  The apostle Paul says, "Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:9-10).  The apostle Paul tells Timothy that the law of Moses is for the sexually immoral men who practice homosexuality (I Timothy 1:8-11).  The apostle Paul says that when God gives up people that they naturally digress into greater and greater sinfulness.  "Women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error" (Romans 1:26-27)

The Christian like unto Jesus is to respond with a loving nature towards the sinner.  The most loving thing the Christian can do is point the homosexual, lesbian, transvestite to the truth of God.  The adulterous woman of John 4 is called to repentance.  The woman caught in adultery in John 8 is told to go and sin no more.  The sinful man Zacchaeus is to repent and restore those he has wronged.  The sinners that Jesus associated with were compelled to repent and submit their lives unto the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Warnings from God are always loving even if they do not feel loving.  God does not have to warn anyone.  When God does warn someone it is an act of his mercy.  He could simply let men and women go forward in their sin and ultimately to hell, but in His grace He sends warnings through His Word, His prophets, His ministers, and through His church.

As a true Christian who loves God and hates sin I urge and beseech any man or woman who reads this blog and is practicing that which God calls sin to repent of your sin and submit your life unto Jesus who died on the cross and rose from the dead for sinners.  Look unto Him and be saved.  Your only hope is in Him.  Plead with the Lord to be merciful to you and plead with Him until He grants you mercy.  He is able to deliver you from sin and He is able to fill you with abounding joy.  He is the all sufficient Savior and everything that you need for this life and the life to come is found in Him.  Their is great mercy with the Lord so come to Him quickly.  As the old hymn says, "Christ receiveth sinful men".  Your a sinner so go to Him and find true life. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Cycling and Christianity

"For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few" (Matthew 7:14)
The Greek word I want to comment upon is θλίβω (hard).  A good definition of this word would be, "to cause something to be constricted or narrow, press together, compress, make narrow" (BDAG).  In the case of a road it becomes a source of difficulty to those using it.

A few days ago I was able to watch some of the Tour de France.  Being a bicycle rider myself there were certain things that I noticed about the Tour.  First, there are not that many people who are in the Tour.  Second, everyone seems fast when the road goes downhill.  Third, there are some who break the rules and use drugs to help them have the strength to go uphill.  Fourth, in order to climb the grades that they climb they must consume a lot of food and water.  Fifth, the roads at the top of the mountain are extremely narrow and only a few make it to the top (Less than 200 hundred people finish the Tour).  Sixth,  there are far more spectators than there are competitors.  Last, at the top of one very important climb a bystander through carpet tacks on the road and caused over 30 flats.

I usually ride my bike on Monday's and as I rode I was thinking about bikes and Christianity and I offer you the following thoughts that parallel the above paragraph and coincide with the verse that Jesus spoke.  First, there are few who are walking the right path.  Second, people look like good Christians when things are going well (church is full, plenty of money, programs for the kids, pastor is funny and entertaining, music is like they like it, etc.).  Third, some people cannot follow the standards set by Jesus so they look like Christians on the outside, but on the inside they are full of dead men's bones.  Fourth, in general many confessing Christians are not consuming the right quantity of the bread of life and they do not drink enough from the well that never runs dry.  Fifth, the glorious view of Zion is never seen by many people.  Sixth, the number of people who are glad someone else is doing evangelism, missions, teaching, serving, preaching, praying, giving, and encouraging far outnumbers the people who are actually doing it.  Last, there is no shortage of people (even confessing Christians) who are more than willing to take down those whose lives make them look so fake.

What about you?  Are you going downhill or uphill?  It is easy to go downhill, anybody can do it.  Billions of people go downhill into the world, sports, entertainment, popularity, Facebook, surfing endlessly on the web, and etc., but it seems that there are few who are disciplined in Scripture reading, prayer, memorization, service to the local church, evangelism, and missions.  Well I have digressed into meddling a bit so I must end this post.  Peddling uphill may be 'hard', but the benefits are eternal.  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Anxiety for the Local Church

χωρίς των παρεκτός ή επιστασις μοι ή καθ ήμεραν, ή μέριμνα πασών τών εκκλησιών (2 Cor. 11:28).  "Apart from other external things, there is the daily pressure upon me of anxiety (concern) for all the churches" (My translation).
Paul has just given a lengthy list of the physical pains that he had endured.  Apparently he could have added or expanded upon this list of things that his body had gone through.  He now switches to something that he sees as an even greater battle.  "Apart from other external things" that he could have listed there is one thing that never eased up on him internally.  The thing that robbed him of sleep or of rest was 'the daily pressure of anxiety' that he had for all the churches.  Countless things were happening in the world during Paul's time and his external body was paying a price for his devotion to the things of God, but the one thing that consumed Paul was his love for the εκκλησία (church).

επιστασις (pressure) - "Responsibility for a matter, pressure, care . . . the sense of anxiety caused by a heavy sense of responsibility" (BDAG).  μέριμνα (anxiety, concern) - "Anxiety, worry, care" (BDAG)  The antonym (opposite) for the word anxiety is unconcern.  The apostle Paul was not a man who exhibited no concern for the local church, but rather he felt the pressure daily and lived his life in continual concern for 'all the churches'.

The word for anxiety can be used negatively or positively.  Negatively it is used in the gospels to show that some of the seed that was scattered was choked out by the 'cares' of the world.  These people were so consumed with the world that they never produced any fruit of the kingdom of God.  Paul is the opposite of this.  His concern was not for the world.  Paul's heart, soul, and mind was consumed with the local churches of his day.  He was not a false apostle (2 Cor. 11:1-15), but rather he was a true apostle and this was seen in his zealous love for the local churches.

A pastor who has no love for the local church is no pastor at all.  There is a list of qualifications for being an elder of a local church (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9) and Paul would also by example show that 'concern' for the local church is also a qualification for any minister of the living God.  The Lord Jesus shows His concern for the local church in that He laid down His life for the sheep (John 10:11) and He obtained the church of God with His own blood (Acts 20:28).

The Lord Jesus so loved the church that He gave His life to obtain her.  The apostle Paul so loved the church that his life was consumed with care for her.  The men and women who have gone before us were martyred, burned at the stake, sawn in two, ripped to pieces by wild beasts, imprisoned, and hated by the world because of their undying love for the Lord Jesus and His church.

What about you?  Do you love the church?  Is your mind and heart consumed with ways to serve the local church better?  Do you look for ways to be a blessing to your church?  Do you consistently pray on the behalf of your church?  Are you the one who is always speaking positively about your church?  Examine your heart today and see where you are in your affections towards the church.  If you desire to love God, follow Jesus, be led by the Spirit, and imitate the apostle Paul then you will naturally grow in your love for the church.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Only Local Church

"We give thanks to God always for all of you . . . mentioning . . . remembering . . . and knowing (1 Thessalonians 1:3-4).  Paul mentions this local church constantly in his prayers.  He remembers their 'work of faith', 'labor of love', and their 'steadfastness of hope'.  Paul's heart for this church is expressed in 1 Thess. 2:17 and his heartache that occurred because he was απορφανίζω  'torn away' from them. He wanted to come to them, but at this time he was hindered.  He had a great desire to see them "face to face", but was unable at the time.  Paul loved this local church.

Praise the Lord that somebody truly has a love for a local body of believers.  Paul had preached the gospel that birthed this church and was run out of town for it (Acts 17:1-9) along with Silas.  It is safe to say that Paul had paid some high prices as a result of his love for the local church.

It seems strange today that when a pastor speaks highly of the local church and teaches clearly the responsibility of the church members, someone will inevitably say, "So you think your church is the only church in town".  It would be akin to someone reading Paul's letter to the Thessalonians and concluding that they were the only church in the world.  This type of response to a pastor who loves his church and teaches responsibility for his members is unfounded and misguided.

For an example one would only need to consider marriage.  A man begins to explain what a wonderful wife he has, how patient she is, how loving she is, and how beautiful she is. The people that he shares this with respond and say, "So you think your wife is the only woman in the world".  The husband would aptly respond and say, "No, she is just the only woman in the world that I have committed myself to in marriage".

The church that you belong to is not the only church in the world, nor the only church in your town, but the church you belong to is the only church that you have committed yourself to serve your Lord in.  Certainly there are biblical reasons and exceptions for leaving a local church, but many people are leaving churches for reasons that cannot be justified by the person leaving.  

Biblical reasons for leaving a local church would include death, being providentially moved out of the area, being called into a ministry that would require your departure, the church makes major doctrinal changes that clearly goes against the sound teaching of the Word of God, and other like reason could be listed.

Un-biblical reasons for leaving a church would include hurt feelings, not getting your way about a matter, desire for something bigger and better to appeal to your flesh, unreconciled relationships, looking for a place where there will be no demands upon your life, looking for a place that no one will hold you accountable, and other like reasons.

If you possess an attitude towards your church that is more negative than positive then it is time to repent and develop a new attitude.  Confess your issues to God and confess the wrongs that you have toward your church, your leadership, or towards your other brothers and sisters.  Ask for God's forgiveness over your sin and for strength to reconcile any broken relationships that you have.  Secondly, look for ways to humbly serve your church for the glory of God and for your good.  Lead out in prayer, door to door witnessing, assisting in property maintenance, and find creative ways to show your commitment to the local church where you currently hold membership.  Ask God to grant you a great love for your church and that by the Holy Spirit you will be empowered to serve your Lord in the local church that you call home. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Perfection in the church

I ran across an interesting quote concerning the local church by John Calvin and thought it was worth writing down.

"If the Lord himself teaches that the Church will struggle with the burden of countless sinners until the day of judgment, it is obviously futile to look for a Church totally free from faults".

The number of reasons that people leave churches is entirely to long to list, but in my observation and in the circles that I run in, the reason that people leave churches is because they are churches.  What does that mean?  The generation that I live in goes to church for far different reasons that the bible gives for being a part of the church.  The bible explains church to be about truth, holiness, discipline, godly fellowship, accountability, work of faith, labor of love, steadfastness of hope, receivers of the Word, examples to the world, and turning from idols to serve the living God.  

Today's generations goes to church for entertainment, baby sitting, cheap prices on summer camps to get their children out of their hair, conscience appeasing, pizza, programs, reputation, social status, and certainly for what exciting things they can provide for the kids.  Note: None of the above things have a biblical foundation for church.  

Back to Calvin's quote.  Those who are always looking for another church, because the one that they are a part of has so many faults.  All the future churches they go to will have faults and the overlooked truth is that the fault most always is in the person who keeps finding faults.   

Final observation:  Instead of looking for a church free from faults, perhaps you could find a church that would expose your faults.  That is what a biblical church does, because the biblical church exist for the glory of God and not the exaltation of man.  As John F. MacArthur said, "It is absolutely essential that a church perceive itself as an institution established for the glory of God.  I fear that the church in America has descended from that lofty purpose and focused instead on humanity".  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


"My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth . . . (James 5:19).  

I have been preaching through the book of James for the past year and will come to the final two verses this Sunday.  I have only done my preliminary study so far, but I was startled by the word 'wander'.  In Greek πλανάω means "to proceed without a proper sense of direction, go astray, be misled, wander about aimlessly (BDAG)".  Webster defines it this way, "to move about without a fixed course, aim, or goal, to go idly about, to follow a winding course, to go astray".  For a word picture it is like a cork in the middle of the ocean.  The cork simply goes with wind and tide ever closer to the bank.  In the text the wanderer is aimlessly going through life and each day he is getting further away from the truth.  Like the cork (if the water represents the truth) he is aimlessly getting more and more shallow.  

The apostle Paul tells Timothy that the church of the living God is the "pillar and support of the truth" (1 Tim. 3:15).  It strikes me today as I live in a town that has over 100 churches listed in the phone book that the little corner of the world that I live in is made up of wanderers.  People wander in and out of church every day.  The book we are studying in Sunday School (Life in the Father's House; Wayne Mack and Dave Swavely) stated that "53,000 people leave churches every week and never come back"!  That is simply staggering to my heart and mind.  I am perplexed, saddened, and grieved over the self-inflicted destruction of people who will throw away one church after another as they aimlessly wander further from God and closer to shallow worldliness.  

It is heartbreaking to think that people who confess to be followers of Jesus  Christ will wander from church to church and even complain about the churches they leave, but yet they will be unremittingly committed to the school-house, job, secular groups (Boy Scouts, Athletics, Chamber of Commerce, etc), and to personal hobbies.  On the above listed groups they will encounter selfish people, mean people, disgruntled people, arrogant people, deceptive people, and even downright evil people.  However, even with those type of people they will not wander away from these groups, but if something at church does not go their way they quickly wander on to something supposedly better down the road.  

With all the wandering that goes on today I have a question.  Why do people overwhelmingly wander from church to church, but do not wander away from the worldly institutions in the same way?  Well to answer the question I must quote my grandmother (100 years old and will be 101 this month) when she told me, "John Randall, people do what they want to do".  There is great revelation in this statement by my grandmother and it centers on the word 'want/desire'.  When a person has 'want/desire' he will endure any difficulty for the sake of being a part of what he loves.  When a person is simply doing something for the sake of conscience he will easily wander from one group to another because he has not the 'want/desire' for the truth.  Any man who loves truth will be committed to the end to the local church.  Why will he be committed?  He will be committed because the church is the "pillar and support of the truth".  

Do you want to stop your wandering ways?  I recommend that you look to Jesus Christ as your true north on your spiritual compass.  Jesus is the truth and there is no truth outside of Him.  Jesus Christ has a bride and her name is church (Rev. 21:9).  Find a church that preaches the Word, observes communion and baptism and invest your life there for the glory of God and for your own good.  Give 100 percent to your local church until you die and trust that God will bless anyone who loves His bride.  

Stop wandering around like a cork in the ocean and put your anchor down on biblical truth!  Dear wanderer, if you continue wandering you will kill yourself with a multitude of sins.  However, if you will cling steadfastly to Jesus Christ and demonstrate your love to Him by serving His bride you will find great favor in His eyes. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fickleness of People

"What portion do we have in David?  We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse"(1 Kings 12:16).  Fickleness is defined by Webster as one who is "marked by lack of steadfastness, constancy, or stability:  given to erratic and even perverse changeableness".  The fickleness of humanity has been around a long time and there appears to be no ending of it in sight.  In 1 Kings 12 the events of the division of the kingdom of Israel are explained.  Israel had demanded a king and ended up with Saul who did not work out so well.  Thus, God chose the man He desired to sit upon the throne of Israel and God made a covenant with him that one of his descendants would always sit upon the throne (2 Sam. 7:1-17; Acts 2:30).  The nation of Israel came to David at Hebron when he was anointed king and said, "We are your bone and flesh"(2 Sam. 5:1-5).  David was a great king and the people loved, supported, and followed him.

David's life comes to an end and Israel as a nation has come to a state of peace.  David had subdued all their enemies and Israel had great strength at this time.  This enabled his son Solomon to focus his attention upon building the temple.  Israel was blessed through Solomon with a great building project and they were inundated with gold and silver.  The surplus was so great that silver was as common as stones (1 Kings 10:27).  The next king that came to the throne as a descendent of David was Rehoboam.

Rehoboam was certainly not the wisest of kings, but nevertheless he was the new king.  He rejected the counsel of the older and wiser men (I Kings 12:8) and took to the like-minded counsel of the younger men (1 Kings 12:13-14).  Certainly this was not what the people wanted to hear, but it did not justify their rebellion.  In 1 Kings 12:16 the text says, "When all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them".  There it is!  Read it again: "When all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them".   A fickle people who's forefathers had sworn allegiance to the house of David are now going to throw David to the side and run home like a bunch of spoilt babies.  They do not get their way so they throw in the towel and quit.  There is not even a justifiable reason for them to do so.  They did not even try to work things out with Rehoboam.  As a matter of a fact, Rehoboam sent Adoram to talk with them and they stoned him to death.  Cold blooded murder!  Since they could not get their way they rebelled and murdered.

What happened to a man's word is his bond?  What happened to commitment?  What happened to integrity?  Where are the men and women who will stand with what they signed on to do?  In the sporting world of America the crowds shouts to the top of their lungs in support one day and the next day they desire for their previous hero to be traded to another team.  The nation of Israel supported Moses and said that whatever God spoke through him they would do.  A few short days later they made a golden calf.  The nation of Israel said that David was their "bone and flesh".  A couple of kings later, "What portion do we have with David"?  The nation of Israel gathers and shouts Hosanna when Jesus rides into Jerusalem. A few days later they shout, "Crucify"! "Crucify"!

I suppose things will not change in the near future, but what about you.  Does your word mean anything? Does what you said in front of the church when you got married even matter anymore?  What about what you told your boss when he hired you for your job?  What about the commitment you made to your local church?  What about your profession to be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ until you die?  Are you simply just another  man who is fickle, weak, and simply a pansy at heart?  It is time to stand up and be counted.  Let your yes be yes and your no be no.  Look unto Jesus Christ who did what He said He would do even when the whole world turned their back on Him (Psa. 69:20).  Oh, glory be unto Jesus the offspring of David who was not fickle in anything He did.  

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Glory of Easter Week

The time of year that many churches celebrate Easter is quickly approaching us.  Certainly we should celebrate the resurrection throughout the whole of our lives, but this is the time of year when the subject is pressed upon the world once again.  Religion has impacted the world for over 6,000 years in some way or the other.  From the time of Adam and Eve until today religion has played a key role in individual lives, groups, and even nations.  There have been countless arguments, divisions, and even wars over religious issues.  In the countless topics of discussions that could be talked about there is one thing that we can be certain of.  The writers of the Gospels understood the last eight days of Jesus life to be of the most importance.  Numerous references could be listed from the Old Testament and the New Testament that refer to the last eight days of Jesus' life, but it is for certain that the gospels make this fact obvious.

Jesus lived on earth approximately 33 years and had a 3 year active public ministry.  Yet we find that the bulk of the gospel material centers on the last eight days of his life.  There are 89 chapters in the four gospels and twenty-nine and a half of these (exactly 1/3) cover the time between the Triumphal Entry and Jesus' resurrection.  In this time period we learn of the cleansing of the temple, his final teaching, the institution of the Lord's Supper, his arrest, and his trial and crucifixion.  Matthew devotes 1/4 of his Gospel to the last eight days (chaps. 21-28).  Mark devotes 1/3 of his Gospel (chaps. 11-16).  Luke devotes 1/5 of his Gospel (chaps. 19:28-24).  John devotes half of his Gospel (chaps. 12-21).  The very climax of redemptive history is found in the last eight days of Jesus life and the writers of the Gospels are obviously aware of this.

For a few thousand years the Old Testament has been proclaiming that the Messiah would come and save his people (Psa. 118:25; Isa. 62:11; etc.) from their sin.  The book of Acts immediately follows the gospels and records the history of the birth of the local church that would spread around the entire globe.  The epistles give clarity as to how the church is to function in light of what was accomplished in the last eight days of the life of Christ.  Revelation reveals to us that the One who made His entry into Jerusalem to suffer and die Υπέρ (on the behalf) of His sheep is going to come again riding on a white horse and conquering all His enemies.

Thus, since the entire bible is centered around the last eight days of the life of Jesus it stands to reason that the local church should place a high priority upon the worship of King Jesus during this time of the year.  The final eight days of Jesus' life have brought eternal ramifications to every tribe and tongue and nation.  I pray that you will not make Easter common this year, but that you will glory in the Redeemer who gave His life on Calvary's tree to pay a full payment for sins and to clothe His children with righteousness.

Seven things worth meditating on this Easter:
1)  The Humility of King Jesus (Matt. 21:1-11)
2)  The Wisdom of King Jesus (Matt. 21:28-32, 33-46; 22:1-14; 25:1-13, 14-30)
3)  The 2nd Coming of King Jesus (Matt. 24:1-51; 25:31-46)
4)  The Sacrifice of King Jesus (Matt. 26:1-5, 57-68; 27:1-2, 11-14)
5)  The Bread and Wine of King Jesus (Matt. 26:17-29)
6)  The Redemption Accomplished by King Jesus (Matt. 27:15-61)
7)  The Resurrection of King Jesus (Matt. 28:1-20)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Divine Jealousy Over the Local Church

ζήλω γαρ υμάς θεού ζήλω "For I am jealous of you with the jealousy of God" (2 Cor. 11:2).  Herein exist the heart of the true pastor of the local church.  Paul equates his hearts desire for the Corinthian church with the very heart of God over the nation of Israel.  In the Decalogue it says, "I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God", as a command to the Israelites that idolatry is not tolerated (Ex. 20:5; Deut. 5:9).  God's zeal for his people results in blessings when they obey and curses when they disobey (Deut. 28).  God knows that the absolute best scenario for His people is that they worship Him alone.  To worship anything other than the living God is to commit idolatry and incur the just judgment of God.  God's love for His people is evidenced in His desiring their greatest good, which is God.  Thus, it grieves the heart of God when people turn to lesser things.

In the oriental culture of Paul's day an engagement to be married was equivalent to marriage without consummation.  It was like unto Joseph and Mary.  They were betrothed, but the marriage had not been consummated.  The betrothal period generally lasted about one year.  The betrothal was held to such a standard that to break the relationship was equivalent to a divorce.  The only way to end the betrothal was by death of one of the parties.  The father of the bride to be was very concerned to be able to present his daughter to her future husband as a virgin.  It would shame and grieve the father greatly to know that his daughter was unfaithful to the one she was betrothed to.  A good and loving father would have great desire to protect his daughter and to keep her pure until her wedding day.  So Paul exerts himself to keep the church pure from doctrine contrary to the gospel as he strives to present her to Christ.

In this scenario that Paul presents we are brought before a groom who is absolutely perfect.  He is impeccable in His character.  He is sinless in thought, word, and deed.  He is infinitely loving, merciful, and beautiful beyond description.  He sacrifices His own life for the bride.  He prepares an eternal home for  His bride.  He provides for all the needs of His bride and withholds no good thing from her.

Paul knows the groom well and is compelled with a divine jealousy to present the Corinthian church to Christ as a pure virgin.  The word αγνός (pure) is synonymous with the word άγιος (holy).  Paul desires for the Corinthian church to be pure/holy in all her ways as she waits for the coming of her groom.  Paul is greatly disturbed when the Corinthian church pursues after lesser things.  Paul is grieved to see people leave the Corinthian church for a different Jesus (vs. 4a), a different spirit (vs. 4b), or a different gospel (vs. 4c).  Paul is heavy hearted that people would run after so-called super-apostles (vs 5).

Any pastor worth his salt has experienced the same emotions as the apostle Paul did.  In the 21st century the value of the local church is synonymous with the value of marriage.  It has become common language in our day to talk of homosexuality, divorce, living together, shacking-up, test driving the product, co-habitation, and the one man with one woman till death separate them has become the oddity.  The degeneration of the local church is revealed as countless numbers of people sleep with a different local church every year.  The number of local churches that people have joined is closely related to the number of divorces the average American experiences (or changing of partners).  Church people hop from one church to another like fornicators and adulterers jump from one bed to another.  The view of the local church has become so low that most people have lost all respect for the church and thrown it to the side in hope of finding something better.  Like unto marriage, that which God has ordained as good and right has been thrown away for something far less and dramatically more destructive.  The number one phrase used to justify the swapping of one church for another is, "you just do not understand how bad my last church was".  Note: The last church probably improved after you left.

The arguments that are used for leaving the local church are the same ones that are used for divorce.  The fault is always with the spouse and all the things they did not do, or the things that they did that were wrong.  The fault is the pastor's or certain people within the local church.  The love that once existed has been lost and the couple has simply grown apart.  The love that was once held for the local church has been lost and the Lord is moving us somewhere else (this is near unto blasphemy to invoke the name of God to justify something that God had nothing to do with).  Countless marriages could be saved through repentance, forgiveness, and a whole lot of mercy.  Countless people could still be actively serving the local church if they would repent, forgive, and demonstrate a whole lot of mercy.

Paul knew that for people to abandon a church like the one at Corinth (this church was filled with problems) was a terrible move.  He knew that he could only effectively continue to minister to them if they stayed within the local body.  Oh, how it hurt Paul to see people go and for him to no longer have the opportunity to feed and water them on a regular basis.  Paul equates marriage to the local church in Ephesians 5 and a proper study of that passage will reveal that the departure from the local church is equivalent to adultery.  Paul was jealous over his church with a divine jealousy and he makes no apology for living out such an attitude.

I pray that every pastor would live out their ministry with a heart like unto Paul for the local church and that church members would study the Word of God closely and see the value they are to place upon the local church.  The church is the 'apple' of God's eye and great caution must be exercised in how people treat her.  God will not be mocked and he will not overlook the way people treated the bride of His dear Son.  I pray that God will grant you a local church that rightly divides the Word and the sacraments are rightly administered and that you will serve the Lord Jesus in that place until He comes.  Amen!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Heart of a Godly Pastor for the Local Church

The life of the pastor of the local church is filled with responsibilities, relationships, and requirements.  The typical pastor makes countless decisions per day and many of those decisions involve eternal elements.  The number of things that are pressed before a pastor each day cannot all be accomplished.  The pastor simply does not have enough time to cover every area that needs to be covered.  The time for prayer and study alone takes up a large portion of time.  The time that is left per day after prayer and study can be filled with visitation, family, community, evangelism, tragedies, funerals, weddings, and the list goes on.

In thinking through the reality of the many obligations that pull at the pastor of the local church, you could easily add the emotional level of it all.  The pastor loves his people, cares about their spiritual wellbeing, and truly hurts when he sees those he cares about going down a road that will hurt them.  When the pastor does get home his mind and heart are still consumed about all the issues of the day, and when he lays down to sleep it seems that his mind moves even faster.  If it were not for the grace of God he would simply self-destruct.

It is not my intent in this post to try to solve the whole of this situation, but to give a word that may help the pastor and that may help the church member to help their pastor.  In Philippians 3:14 Paul says, "I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus".  The word διώκω (press on) means "to move rapidly and decisively toward an objective, hasten, run, press on" (BDAG).  This verse is where we get the old hymn, "I Am Resolved" by Palmer Hartsough.  In stanza 3 of that hymn he says, "I am resolved to follow the Savior, faithful and true each day.  Heed what He sayeth, do what He willeth, He is the living way".

There are a few things that should be notice from Philippians 3:12-16 about Paul that should help.  First, the word διώκω is also used in verse 12.  Paul realizes that he has not obtained the resurrection from the dead nor is he perfect, but he 'presses on'.  What is Paul's motive?  Christ has made him his own.  Paul's identity in Christ was the motive of his ministry.  Second, Paul had the wisdom to know that he could not live in the past.  He had made mistakes, sinned, failed, and etc., but wisdom showed him to επιλανθανομαι (to forget) what was behind and to stretch out or strain for what is ahead.  Third, Paul knew that the issue that was of extreme importance was to διώκω (press on) in regards to the call.  There is nothing greater on earth than the call to the pastoral ministry and the pastor of the local church cannot allow anything to distract him from fulfilling that call.  Martin Luther reportedly said, "Why should I stoop to the level of being a king, when I can stand in the pulpit of God".  Lastly,  the mature are the ones who think this way.  The local pastor must hold true to that which he has obtained.  

The local pastor is to be motivated by his identity in Christ, forgetting the past, pressing on to fulfill the call,  and to know that that is the most mature thing that he can do.  The local pastor will save himself a lot of trouble to have resolve in these areas.  Resolve who you are in Christ.  Resolve what it is that your have been called to do.  Resolve, that come hell or high water you will preach verse by verse, pray without ceasing, lead your family, and serve your local church.  No matter what the entire world may do, nor what they may do to you, be resolved to διώκω (press on) to fulfill the calling that God has placed upon your life.  

If you as a church member desire to help your pastor fulfill his God given role, here are a few suggestions that may be a blessing to your pastor and ultimately to your own soul.  First, pray for your pastor on a daily basis.  Pray that he will stay focused upon that which is most important to the God he serves.  Second, encourage him to study well for his sermons and for any bible studies he is teaching.  Come to class or to worship hungry to learn from the Word of God.  Ask him questions about the text and show interest in the Word of God.  Third, take a moment and encourage his wife.  A pastor's wife who is encouraged, loved, and appreciated will ultimately be one of the greatest ways to bless the pastor.  Show me a happy pastor's wife and I will show you a happy pastor.  Lastly, show genuine love for God by showing genuine love for your local church.  Any pastor worth his salt will love the local church and he will be greatly encouraged to see others loving the same thing that he loves.  There is nothing more draining on a pastor that to see people with a low view of the bride of Christ and there is nothing more exciting for a pastor than to see the people of God giving their lives to serve God by serving the local church. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How to Pastor the Local Church

Pastoring the local church is full of challenges.  The pastor questions himself every week wondering whether or not he is being and doing what God has called him to be and do.  In our modern church world a pastor who looks to the internet to examine the pastorate, he may come to many different conclusions.  He may think that to be a pastor he must be successful (growing numbers and his own reputation).  He may consider that to be a good pastor he will have to be on the cutting edge of ministry (lights, camera, action).  He may look to his external appearance and seek to dress a little more hip (square rimmed glasses, untucked shirt, and just the right pair of shoes).  He may even think about his preaching style and seek to implement a laptop, iPad, iPod, or other media helps (visual learning, lights, catchy).  The modern church gives offs the vibes of a hollywood mentality that is seeking the best show in town with the greatest of actors.  He may feel he has to keep up with what everyone else is doing.

What is it that makes a good pastor?  It is of vital importance to look at the "Chief Pastor" to develop a true understanding of pastoring.  Towards the end of Jesus' earthly ministry he is gathered together with his local church of 12 men.  He has known all along that one member of his church is not really with Him.  Jesus had even revealed that one of them was the devil back in John 6:70.  With this knowledge of Judas we still find Jesus teaching Judas, serving Judas, and even washing his feet.  Herein, is the heart of the successful pastor.  A man so in love with the glory of God that he would even wash the feet of the devil to the glory of God.  In John 13 we find these words from the "Chief Pastor", "αγαπησας τους ίδιους τους ev  τω κόσμω εις τέλος ηγάπησεν αυτούς"(having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end).  With all the faults, failures, and at times fickleness of His local church Jesus loved them to the very end.  

The word love gets thrown around and used in many different ways by different people.  We must define the word properly.  Love is defined this way, "By this we know love, that He (Jesus) laid down His life for us".  Jesus, the Chief Pastor, sacrificed Himself for the undeserving.  He sacrificially taught them, prayed all night for them, fed them, watered them, led them, and in our present passage He washed their feet.  A local church of 12 with one of them being a devil and the other eleven having issue of doubt, fear, lack of prayer, timidity, denials, and in general they just were not that impressive.  Jesus loved them to the end.  They misunderstood His teaching at times and had the shocking ability to forget the greatest of miracles that Jesus did.  Jesus' local church rebuked Him for sleeping when a storm was on the sea, when He said He was going to return to Jerusalem, and when He told them He must die.  What nerve they had to rebuke the Chief Pastor.  Yet, Jesus loved them to the end.  

In order to Pastor a local church correctly the pastor will have to learn to love the unloveable.  He will have to be patient with those he does not think deserve his patience.  He will have to teach those who are playing on their phones and iPad's while he is teaching.  He will have to preach to those who sleep while he preaches.  He will have to serve those who slander his good name in the community.  He must learn to love those who do not even want to be loved.  He must learn to love those who do not love him.  He will have to serve some that proof, in the end to be in partnership with the devil.  He must look to Jesus, the Chief Pastor and learn to love like Jesus loved.  He loved to the end. 

Bypassing all of the modern trends of what is said it takes to be a successful pastor, perhaps men should try to learn to love the local church the way that Jesus did.  Jesus loved his own to the end.  Do you love your own to the end?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Answer to the question

The quote from my last blog entry was C. H. Spurgeon and is found in "Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit", Vol. 60, pgs. 566-567.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Who is the author?

Just a bit of trivia on limited atonement.  See if you can guess who wrote the following and I will give the answer and source in a few days.  The quote comes in a discussion about faith from James 2:14-17.

"What James does mean, however, is this, no doubt, in brief and short, that while faith saves, it is faith of a certain kind.  No man is saved by persuading himself that he is saved; nobody is saved by believing Jesus Christ died for him.  That may be, or may not be, true in the sense in which he understands it.  In a certain sense Christ died for all men, but since it is evident that many men are lost, Christ's dying for all men is not at all a ground upon which any man may hope to be saved.  Christ died for some men in another sense, in a peculiar and special sense.  No man has a right to believe that Christ peculiarly and specially died for him until he has an evidence of it in casting himself upon Christ, and trusting in Jesus, and bringing forth suitable works to evince the reality of his faith.  The faith that saves is not a historical faith, not a faith that simply believes a creed and certain facts; I have no doubt devils are very orthodox; I do not know which church they belong to, though there are some in all churches, there was one in Christ's Church when he was on earth, for he said one was filled with devils; and there are some in all churches" (Underlines are added by me).