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10 Things Our Baptist Churches are doing Right

I grew up in Michigan and then moved to California for college. In my youth, as well as in recent years, I have had the unique opportunity to visit and be a member of multiple churches. They have included religious groups such as Non-Denominational, Protestant, and Baptist. They have ranged in size from over 6,000 to 50. All were ‘Christian’ churches attempting to reach and impact a community in their own unique method and style. Over the years, I was able to sit back and see how these churches worked.

Even though I visited many churches that were either non-denominational or some variant of protestant, I always ended up coming back to the Baptist church. There are certainly some solid, Biblical non-denominational and protestant churches out there. However in my experience, there were always certain things in the Baptist churches I attended that I couldn’t find as easily in other churches. It is because of these reasons that I, as a Christian, I choose to go to a Baptist Church.

I know that all Baptist churches are not the same. There are certainly many varieties of Baptists out there. I primarily attended an independent Baptist church and will continue to be a member of an independent Baptist church in the future. I also understand that all independent Baptist churches will not be the same, but for the most part, the Baptist churches I attended generally had the same qualities.

I feel that Baptists sometimes get a bad reputation because of various “Baptist churches” that are a part of absurd acts that in no way portray Christ or a loving church. Also, there are even Baptist churches that nit-pick at one another over trite issues. It is obvious that there certainly is no perfect church. I don’t believe there will ever be. All of our churches consist of imperfect people, and if there is any problem in a church, it is the people’s fault.

It can of course be said that there is always room for improvement. I think there are enough people out there, who are more qualified than I am who have already written about improvements our churches should make. Those articles are helpful and necessary, but I simply just would like to highlight certain areas where I feel that our Baptist churches do good job. I think sometimes it’s beneficial to just give a pat on the back and say, “Hey, good job!”

1.     The Emphasis on Family

One of the things that I am most grateful for in our Churches is the focus on the family unit. I’m sick of hearing about churches supporting divorce or even cohabitation. I know in our Baptist churches that the family unit is stressed and supported. The church gives deference to the family, and provides Biblical tools to support it.

I know that my own life and marriage have been greatly impacted by the support that our church has given to strengthening my family.

2.     The Faithfulness to Fundamental Doctrine

One of the stronger aspects of the Baptist church is it’s adherence to Doctrine. I really appreciate that the pastors and teachers in my church hold strong to fundamental Doctrine and also can explain Biblically why they do so. Our Baptist churches will not compromise their stance to appease the culture, neither will they cease from holding to the Doctrine they believe.

3.      The Personal Touch

A great thing about our Baptist churches is the personal touch you get. From Sunday school to small groups, there is a family atmosphere that warms the heart of most everyone. The people at my church have become like family. Some of my dearest friends are at my church.

Our churches go the extra mile to visit people personally and invite them to activities and events. People then get connected to groups within the church and form relationships. These relationships strengthen each other and encourage each other to grow spiritually. At our churches you get a personal touch that you can’t find watching a televangelist or attending a big formal ceremony. Getting connected to people is so important and I believe our churches do this well..

4.     The Effort in Reaching People

This is one thing I feel that our churches get criticized a lot for. It is easy to get discouraged when a church down the road with big movie screens and a rock band bring in hundreds of visitors weekly and our church only has ten. But one thing about our Baptist church is that we are faithful to our outreach. I believe we should always try to find ways to reach people. There is something to be said for a church that still goes out on a Saturday morning or Tuesday night to personally invite people to church. Their faithfulness shows that they are serious about reaching people and that they care about the message they have to tell.

5.     The Resources for Healing People

A great thing about the Baptist church is the emphasis on helping hurting people. Ministries like Reformers Unanimous and other counseling programs help people who are going through rough times by giving them Biblical advice and counsel. Unlike more progressive ministries, our Baptist churches do not use modern psychology to cure people but rather use Biblical principles to help heal people.

6.     The Opportunity for Growing People

Another aspect of our Baptist church I like is the opportunity for spiritual growth. “Taking the next step spiritually” has always been emphasized in the Baptist churches I have been a part of. Established discipleship programs are becoming the norm, giving anyone the opportunity to grow spiritually and learn more about their faith.

7.     The Friendly Atmosphere

There was one time when I visited a popular church in southern California. I came to the church service early and even hung around a little after the service, but still only one person came to speak to me! I felt as if I had a disease. Yes, the building was beautiful and their brochures were top-notch, but the people there were very uninviting.

However, if there was one word to describe the church I am currently attending it would be: “friendly.” I will never forget when I visited the church for the first time. I had barely stepped out of my car, when someone greeted me with a friendly smile.

Our Baptist churches are no-longer those dark, spooky churches with judgemental people and obscure formalities. They are friendly churches with exciting people that are welcoming to guests and visitors.

8.     The Biblical Preaching

This is one area I think I missed most when I visited or attended other churches. Their preaching was always a little lack luster. I know there are solid preachers in non-denominational churches that preach Biblical standards. I have read some of their books. But, as far as the churches I attended, the preaching was more about what the audience wanted to hear then rather what the audience needed to hear. Preaching should not be about entertaining your audience. It should be about changing peoples’ lives for Christ.

9.     The Purity of Christ’s Person

One thing I really respect about our Baptist churches is the defense they of the name of Christ. Different religions have weakened a lot who Christ was and what he has done. They weaken the name of Christ by saying He was just a prophet, or they try to discredit His testimony by stating He was immoral.

Christ made the ultimate sacrifice for us so we can enjoy freedom from our sin. His name should be respected and His testimony needs to be upheld. Some churches have tried to move away from the deity of Christ, but our Baptist churches have not. They still proclaim the name of Jesus Christ.

10.  The Importance of Morals

The last thing listed that our churches do a good job in is their stance on moral values. Our world is morally deteriorating. Divorce, Co-habitation, homo-sexuality, pornography, and drug abuse are all on the rise within our culture. However, it is still drastically lower in the Evangelical world.

I do believe Satan tries hard to have pastors and Christian leaders to fall into sin. Whenever that does happen it is a shame. But the thing about our churches is that we still call sin, sin. Some churches are starting to tolerate some “acceptable sins.” However, our Baptist churches still preach and teach everything that the Bible calls is a sin.

A vast majority of our Baptist churches do a great job in these ten things. Again, no church is perfect but I believe that they should at least be commended for what they are already doing well. It is the things like being friendly, faithful to doctrine, and reaching people that will change our world for Christ. I believe these are the things that will truly make a difference.

Good Job Church!

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Doctrine Series: The Church

The Start of the Church:

Matthew 16:18 – [Begins with Christ] “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

Acts 2:38, 41-42 – [Empowered at Pentecost] “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost…Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

1 Timothy 3:15 – [Structured under Paul] “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth.”

Baptist Distinctives:

Bible is the Final Authority:

2 Timothy 3:16 – “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”

Matthew 4:4 – “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”

Autonomy of the Local Church:

Acts 15 – [Self-Governing]

There was a dispute between Paul and Barnabas

They sent them to the church to discuss the issue with other apostles

James ended up settling the matter in verse twelve

This shows that the pastor had authority in that church

Acts 1:8 – [Self-Propagating]

2  Corinthians 9; Philippians 4 – [Self-Supporting]

Priesthood of the Believer:

1 Peter 2:5,9 – “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ… But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:”

Exodus 19:5-6 – “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.”

1 Timothy 2:5 – “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;”

Two Offices: 1 Timothy 3

Pastor:

1 Timothy 3:1 – [Bishop] “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.”

Acts 20:28 – [Pastor] “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”

1 Timothy 5:17 – [Elder] “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.”

Titus 1:5-7 – [Bishop & Elder] “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;”

Deacon:

1 Timothy 3:8“Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;”

Acts 6:2-3 – “It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.”

Individual Soul Liberty:

Romans 14:12 – “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”

Romans 10:13 – “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Saved Membership:

2 Corinthians 6:14 – “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?”

Acts 2:41-42 – “Then they that gladly received this word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

Two Ordinances: an outward duty prescribed by Christ to be performed by His Church

Baptism: An outward expression of an inward decision

Romans 6:2 – [emersion] “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

Acts 8:36-37 – [after belief] “And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

Colossians 2:12 

Lord’s Supper:

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 – “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.”

Separation of Church and State:

Colossians 1:18 – “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.”

Mark 11:17 – “And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? But ye have made it a den of thieves.”

Universal vs. Local Church:

1 Corinthians 12:13 – “All baptized into one body”

The universal church is manifested in the local church.

The wrong universal church does not give money locally. Local giving is shown in 1 Corinthians 8.

Christ is the Founder: Matthew 16:18, 18:17; Colossians 1:18

Matthew 16:18 – “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

Pillar and ground of truth:

1Timothy 3:15 – “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”

Ephesians 5:25 – Christ Gave Himself for the church

Ephesians 5:23 – Christ is the head of the church

1 Corinthians 12 – Church is the body of Christ

2 Corinthians 11:2 – Church is the bride of Christ

Hebrews 10:25 – Assembling

Matthew 28:18-20 – Great commission

Ephesians 4:11-16 – Pastor is a gift

Galatians 6:1-2 – Fellowship

1 Corinthians 16:1-2 – Tithes

1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12 – Edification

Purpose of the Church:

Glorify God:

Ephesians 3:21 “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”

Evangelizing the World:

Matthew 28:19-20 “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

Edifying and Purifying it’s Members:

Ephesians 4:11-12 “And he gave some apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”

Ephesians 5:25-27 “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”

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Doctrine Series: The Holy Spirit

1. Promise: God promised to send the Holy Spirit

John 15:26 – [Promised] “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:”

Acts 2:4 – [Fulfilled] “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

Ephesians 2:13 – “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,”

2. Deity: The Spirit is God

Attributes: The Holy Spirit has the attributes of God

Eternal: He will live forever

Hebrews 9:14 – “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

Omniscient: He knows everything

1 Corinthians 2:10 – “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”

Omnipresent: He is everywhere

Psalm 139:7 – “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

Omnipotent: He is all-powerful

Luke 1:35 – “And the angle answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee:”

This verse shows that where the Spirit was, the power of God was as well.

References: The Spirit is called God

  • The Spirit mentioned in verse three was then referenced to as God in verse four.

Acts 5:3 – “why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost,”

Acts 5:4 – “..though has not lied unto men, but unto God.”

2 Corinthians 3:17 – “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty.”

1 John 5:7 – “For there are three that bear record in heave, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”

Works:

Creates:

Job 33:4 – “The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.”

Genesis 1:2 – “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”

Saves:

1 Corinthians 6:11 – “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”

3. Works:

Empowers:

Exodus 31:3-5 – “And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to devise cunning works, to work in gold and in silver, and in brass, and in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship.”

Guides: Helps the believer understand the truth

1 Corinthians 2:9-12 – “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.”

Resides:

1 Corinthians 3:16 – “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”

Sends:

Acts 8:29 – “Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.”

Teaches:

John 14:26 – “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your rememberence, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

4. Personality:

Mind:

Romans 8:26-27 – “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered.And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”

Acts 5:3 – “But peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?”

1 Corinthians 2:10 – “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”

Will:

Acts 13:2-4 – “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them…So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, Departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.”

1 Corinthians 12:11 – “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to ever man severally as he will.”

Emotion:

Ephesians 4:30“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are seled unto the day of redemption.”

1 Thessalonians 4:13 – “Quench not the Spirit.”

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Doctrine Series: Jesus Christ

1. Deity: Jesus Christ is God

Philippians 2:9-11 – “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Philippians 2:6 – “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:”

Attributes: Jesus had attributes of deity

Eternal:

Micah 5:2 – “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from old, from everlasting.”

Hebrews 1:8 – “But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever;”

Hebrews 1:11 – “They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment;”

Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”

Micah 5:2 – [Preexistence] “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

John 8:58 – “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.”

Forgiving: He forgave sins

The Bible says that only God can forgive sins. In the same verse it says that Jesus has the power to forgive sins.

Mark 2:7-11 – “Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.”

Colossians 1:14 – “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:”

Holy:

Hebrews 7:26 – “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;”

Hebrews 9:28 – “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”

1 Peter 2:22 – “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:”

1 John 3:5 – “And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.”

Immutable:

Hebrews 1:11-12 – “They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doeth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.”

Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.”

Omnipotent:

Matthew 28:18 – “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”

Colossians 2:10 – “And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:”

Omnipresent:

Matthew 18:20 – “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

Omniscient:

John 4:18-19 – “For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.”

John 16:30 – “Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God.”

Matthew 16:21 – “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.”

Preeminent:

Colossians 1:17-19 – “And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all the fulness dwell;”

Claims:

John 5:16-17 – “But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.”

John 17:5 – “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

Names:

Isaiah 9:6 – “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

Hebrews 1:8 – “But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever,”

1 Timothy 6:15 – “Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;”

References:

John 17:5 – “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.”

Hebrews 1:8 – “But unto the Son he [God] saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kindom.”

Hebrews 1:10 – “And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning has laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:”

Hebrews 5:5 – “So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.”

Works:

Creation:

Colossians 1:16 – “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and for him.”

Hebrews 1:2 – “Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;”

Hebrews 1:10 – “And, thou, Lord, in the beginning has laid the foundations of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:”

John 1:1-3 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

Forgiveness:

Glorification:

John 11:4 – “When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.”

2. Humanity: Jesus Christ was a human

John 1:14 – “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

Philippians 2:8 – “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

Hebrews 7:26 – “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;”

3. Christ in the Old Testament:

Old Testament Prophecy:

He was pierced:

Zechariah 12:10 – “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall morn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.”

John 19:34 – “But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.”

Christ as Jehovah:

Isaiah 42:8 “I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.”

John 17:5 – “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.”

Isaiah 44:6“Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord of host; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is not God.

Revelation 1:17“And when I say him, I fell at his fee               t as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:”

Isaiah 45:21-22 “Tell ye, and bring them near; year, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? Who hath told it form that time? Have not I the Lord? And there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.

John 4:42 –And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.” [c.f. Titus 1:3 …God our Saviour; Titus 2:13…great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ]

Names:

Isaiah 7:14“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a vergin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

Isaiah 9:6“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The might God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”

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Doctrine Series: God

 Attributes of God:

Creator: God created the universe

Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

Acts 4:24 – “And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which has made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:”

Eternal: He will always exist

1 Timothy 1:17 – “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Psalm 90:1-2 – “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.”;

  • Genesis 21:33, Deuteronomy 33:27 and Isaiah 40:28 all call God the “everlasting God.”

Revelation 1:8 – “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”

Revelation 4:8b – “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.”

Holy: He is holy

1 Peter 1:16 – “Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

Isaiah 6:3 – “And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.”

Psalm 22:3 and Psalm 99:9 both call Him “holy.”

Immutable: He is unchanging

Malachi 3:6 – “For I am the Lord, I change not;”

James 1:17 – “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Psalm 100:5 – “For the Lord is good: his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”

In Psalm 136, every verse ends with the phrase, “for his mercy endureth for ever.”

Life: He gives and is life

John 14:6 – “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Light: He is the light

1 John 1:5 – “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”

Love: He is loving

John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Romans 5:8 – “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Omnipotent: He is all powerful

Jeremiah 32:17 – “Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:”

Matthew 19:26 – “But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”

Revelation 19:6 – “And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth,”

Omnipresent: He is present everywhere

Proverbs 15:3 – “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.”

Omniscient: He has all knowledge

1 Samuel 16:7 – “But the Lord hath said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”

Psalm 147:5 – “Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.”

Acts 1:24 – “And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen.”

Perfect: He has no darkness

1 John 1:5 – “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”

Psalm 5:4 – “For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee.”

Personality: He has human personality traits

Jealous:

Exodus 34:14 – “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:”

Joyous:

Luke 15:7 – “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.”

Loving:

1 John 4:10 – “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Sorrowful:

Genesis 6:6 – “And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.”

John 11:35 – “Jesus wept.”

 

Sovereign: He is ruler of all

Ephesians 1:11 – “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:”

Psalm 135:6 – “Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.”

Spirit: He is a spirit

John 4:24 – “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”

2 Corinthians 3:17 – “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

True: He has all truth and is always true

Jeremiah 10:10 – “But the Lord is the true God,”

John 17:3 and 1 Thessalonians 1:9 refer to Him as the true God.

Titus 1:2 and Hebrews 6:18 both say that God cannot lie.


 

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Doctrine Series: The Bible

 The Bible is our Final Authority for Faith and Practice.

John 17:17 [because it is truth] “Sandtify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”

2 Timothy 3:15-16 [because it is inspired by God and it is profitable to us] “…All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness;”

1 Thessalonians 2:13 “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh in you.

Revelation: God revealing Himself to man.

Romans 16:25-26 “Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nation for the obedience of faith:”

Ephesians 3:3-5 “How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;”

General Revelation: God revealing Himself through nature and conscience.

Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork.”

Romans 1:20 “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:”

Romans 2:14-15 “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)”

Special Revelation: God revealing Himself through Jesus Christ and through the scriptures.

John 14:10 [through Jesus Christ] “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works”

Psalm 19:7 [through scriptures] “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.”

2 Peter 1:21 [through scriptures] “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by [the word literally means to work a long side with] the Holy Ghost.”

Inspiration: God used men to write the scriptures.

2 Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is given by inspiration [qeopneustoV literally means God-breathed] of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”

2 Peter 1:21 “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”

Acts 1:16 [Old Testament] “Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.”

Ephesians 3:3-5 “How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;”

1 Thessalonians 2:13 [New Testament] “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, Because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in your that believe.”

Hebrews 1:1-2 [Old and New Testaments] “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;”

Verbal Plenary Inspiration: Every word is equally inspired.

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration…”

2 Peter 1:21 “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by [the word literally means to work a long side with] the Holy Ghost.”

Matthew 4:4 [c.f. Luke 4:4] “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”

Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.”

Matthew 5:18 “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”

Infallible and Inerrant Inspiration: The scriptures are absolute truth and the scriptures emphasizes that they were recorded accurately.

Titus 1:2 “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;”

2 Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God…”

John 17:17 “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”

Psalm 12:6 The words of the Lord are pure words…”

Psalm 119:151 “Thou art near, O Lord; and all thy commandments are truth.”

Psalm 119:160 Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth forever.”

Canonization: determining which books are inspired.

The Law, Prophets and Psalms:

Luke 24:44  “And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.”

Luke 24:27And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”

  • “The Law” in Judaism refers to Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. (The Law is referenced in 2 Kings 22:8)
  • “The Prophets” in Judaism refer to Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, The Twelve, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
  • “The Writings” (called Psalms because it is the first and largest book in the writings) in Judaism refer to Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah and Chronicles.

David’s Writings:

Acts 1:16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.”

Acts 4:25Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?”

Isaiah’s Writings:

  • Philip first heard the Ethiopian Eunuch reading from the book of Isaiah.

Acts 8:30 – “And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?”

  • Philip then refers to what the Eunuch is reading as Scripture in two verses:

Acts 8:32The place of the scripture which he read was this, he was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:” (Quotes Isaiah 53:7)

Acts 8:34Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.” [Referencing Isaiah 53:7]

Acts 28:25And when they had agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers.”

Luke’s Writings:

1 Timothy 5:18For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.” [Quoting Luke 10:7 and Deuteronomy 25:4]

Paul’s Writings:

2 Peter 3:15-16And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”

  • The apostles have the authority to write scripture because the Bible says that the church is built on them and the prophets.

Ephesians 2:19-20Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God: and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;”

Illumination: God teaching the Christian the truth of His word

John 16:13 – “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”

1 Corinthians 2:14-16 – “But the natural man receiveth no the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Preservation: God preserves His Word

Matthew 24:35 “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”

Mark 13:31 “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.”

1 Peter 1:24-25 “For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: but the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” (Quoting Isaiah 40:6-8)

Psalm 100:5 “For the Lord is good: his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”

Psalm 119:152 “Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever.”

Psalm 119:160 “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth forever.”


 

Missions Sunday (background)

My World to the Whole World

At my college, we just had a great mission’s conference. God moved in a miraculous way and many hearts were touched, including mine. There were many great missionaries who shared their hearts and the field that they have a burden for. To be honest, my heart became incredibly burdened this past week for the far reaches of this lost world. There is a world out there with real people who are going to a real hell. Thinking about that makes my heart ache! I was moved to commit my life to go to the far reaches of the globe and reach the lost: from the cities of the United Kingdom to the jungles of Africa. Amidst all of these emotions moving on my heart, God convicted me of something different.

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” – Acts 1:8

            God died for the whole world and desires that all would be saved. That being said, when I read the Bible I see God’s emphasis being placed on home evangelism more than on world evangelism. Obviously I am not saying that world evangelism is unimportant; I am simply saying that reaching the world around you is just as important.

            Yes, God calls people to go to the far reaches of this world and reach the lost, but what about the nation in which we already live? America is falling further and further away from God’s morality. The same reason that causes missionaries to go into faraway lands should be the same reason that should compel us to stay here at home. Africa is aids ridden and full of idolatry, but so are many parts of the country we live in. China is a closed country to the gospel, but so are our schools and government. Our world is in need…including America.

            We see in Acts 1:8 that we should we witnesses in Jerusalem, then Judea, then Samaria, and then finally to the rest of the world. Also seen in this verse is the biblical pattern followed by the church as they expanded. The first church was established in Jerusalem and then we see more churches being founded throughout Asia Minor and the Mediterranean area. The church started local and then moved world-wide. God does not say to keep back the Gospel from the world, he simply emphasizes that it would go “to the Jew first.”

            So what does this mean for us today? It means that we should go reach the world, but to also make sure your family and friends, home and neighbors, your city and your people are reached with the gospel of Christ. Yes, it is a good work to reach lost people all over the world, but what about the people you work with right now and the people you see every day?

            You could be a great missionary to people in a far away country. However, what kind of fellow citizen, family member, coworker, or friend would you be if you did not reach your own people with the Gospel?

            I truly pray that the entire world is reached with the Gospel. “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;”(Matthew 9:37) The world needs many great missionaries to go and reach the world; and if God moves me one day to go to a far away land, I will go. But I pray I will be able to leave with a good conscience, knowing that my family, friends, coworkers and fellow citizens had already been reached with the Gospel.

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Being a Title-less Leader

EVERYONE IS A LEADER

God often places us in several areas of authority. Supervisor, manager, mom or dad—our job title often demands that we be leaders. As supervisors and managers we must rally a team or a store together to achieve the goal of bettering the business. As parents, we have to be a model and lead our children through maturity and onto adulthood. These are both roles in which we are forced to be leaders.

What about when we are not supervisors, managers, mothers or fathers? What happens when we do not have a title or a position and are just normal, everyday people? We sit at our desks and do our job. We drive the truck and deliver boxes. We are not anything extraordinary. We do not manager hundreds nor do me lead a few. We are just title‑less citizens.

But are there really people who do not lead? Are there actually people out there who have no impact on another person? I have a hard time believing this. Everyone has a range of influence. Whether it is a fellow coworker, neighbor, or a stranger on the street—we all can impact others and we can all be leaders.

Just because everyone has the potential to be a “title-less leader” does not mean they are taking advantage of that opportunity. There are certain qualities that a title-less leader must have. The following are some character traits that someone must have in order to be a title-less leader.

SERVANT LEADERSHIP

To some, being a servant seems to be the direct opposite of being a leader. How could a servant be a leader? That sounds absurd. However, this absurd logic is exactly what we need to have in order to be a leader and impact others.

Jesus Christ was the best picture of a servant leader. He was the Messiah, the Son of God, the Prince of Peace, and our Savior. He definitely had enough titles to go around. Nevertheless, He modeled servant leadership to us when He washed the feet of His disciples.

We will impact others when we start caring and serving each other. We will become leaders when we begin serving. The Spiritual Leader by Paul Chappell and J. Oswald Sander’s Spiritual Leadership are two books which I would highly recommend when it comes to the subject of leadership.

INTEGRITY

People have a hard time following a dishonest person. It is difficult to put your trust in someone who cannot be trusted to do what is right.

But what is integrity? Dictionary.com states that integrity is the “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.” Integrity is having enough sense to do what is right. As already mentioned, it is following ethical and moral principles. Integrity is not knowing every aspect of the law and obeying it fully, but rather obeying our inherent conscience when it tells us something is wrong.

One might think that having integrity is a simple task, and I would agree. But people never fail to amaze me when the lack of integrity abounds. I must admit that it is hard to find integrity in my own life from time to time. I often allow my selfishness and fleshly nature to overcome any integrity that I possess. I say that to emphasize that having integrity is not something that just happens; you have to be mindful of it and plan for it.

People are looking for men and women of integrity to impact their lives. People of Integrity become the best leaders even if they do not have a specific title.

HUMILITY

If a leader has to say he is a leader, it is likely that he is not one at all. No one likes following someone who is constantly telling others that he is in control.

No one likes arrogance. Pride and haughtiness is ugly and unattractive. Someone who is self-adsorbed disgusts people around him. No one likes to be around a person who is full of himself. Consequently, someone who if full of themselves does not have room for other people. People who are prideful and too self-adsorbed to care enough about other people cannot effectively lead.

I like what the Bible says in Luke 18:14: “…for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exhalted.” The Bible is saying to humble yourself, and that God will then exalt your position. God is telling us that when we humble ourselves, He is attracted to us. But God is not the only one attracted to humility; people like leaders who are humble. When someone is humble, people are attracted to them; which in turn, gives the leader the opportunity to impact lives. This is why humility must be a character of a title-less leader.

ENCOURAGING

The Bible often talks about edification and encouraging others. Paul challenged Timothy and Titus to edify others and Jesus challenged His disciples to do the same. Obviously in the Bible, edification and encouragement are important.

Not only is being encouraging an important trait for daily life, it is also a trait that leaders should posses. Good leaders encourage the people around them. When someone around them is down or having a bad day, a good leader will lift their spirit and encourage them to move forward. When an employee is having a rough day, a good manager will do something to lighten their spirit. A good pastor or Sunday school teacher should always be encouraging the broken hearted around them. And when a child hurts their knee or is disappointed, who else should be there to help him but his mother? Leaders are designed to be encouragers.

But you do not have to have a title to be an encourager. Anyone anywhere can be encouraging. Whether one is in the middle or at the bottom of the food chain, everyone can encourage someone. Employees can encourage their coworkers. Students can encourage other students and the teachers. We can all find some way to encourage others around us. Being an encourager is one of the first steps to becoming a good leader…title or not.

MATURITY

It is hard to follow a child. No one would feel comfortable with an infant leading a multi-million dollar corporation. People would have a hard time trusting him because he is a child. In the same respects, people have a hard time trusting and following someone who is immature.

An immature person is someone who cannot take responsibility for his actions. Maturity does not come when you reach a certain age; maturity comes when you decide to take ownership of your actions. Immature people blame others and refuse to admit when they are wrong. Mature people know when they are wrong and will admit it.

People are more likely to allow mature people to impact and influence their lives. Mature people have a good grip on reality and understand how life works. Someone who is mature does not necessarily shine, but someone who is immature will stand out greatly. Maturity is attractive to people. Maturity opens doors to impact the lives of others.

LOVE

Although it is the last on the list, I believe that love is the most important character trait for a leader to have. The Bible agrees with this it says that we can have all these great characteristics but if we do not have love, we are useless. Love is always and in everything the most important trait to contain.

John Maxwell captured this thought when he said, “People do not care how much we know until they know how much we care.” When you show that you care about people, your range of influence increases. People will follow someone who loves them. A slave who loves people will have more respect than a master who does not. Love brings people together and love builds trust. Love is what good leadership is built on.

Leadership without love is just manipulation. Consequently, people who are being manipulated grow to resent that leader. People will be faithful to someone who shows that they care, and people will allow themselves to be lead by someone who loves them.

Only a few times in my life have I been in a place of leadership—a position with a title. But often I found myself in title-less roles. Whether it was just another employee or another helper in the church, I often found myself in roles with little to no leadership. However, as was already mentioned, there is always someone who I could impact. If I choose to just be stagnant in the positions I am in, I might lose an opportunity to impact someone’s life.

As a Christian, my desire is to impact the lives of others positively for the cause of Jesus Christ. He made the greatest impact in my life, and I want to share that with others. There is always someone who needs Christ. There is always someone around me who I could impact or influence for Christ. But, if I do not have integrity, humility or love…I may lose that opportunity. Even though we may not be in a position of leadership or have a title that demands respect, we can still make a positive impact on others. We still can be title-less leaders.

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A Love Worth Dying For

The other night I was talking to one of my closest friends. It was out of jest but we were talking back and forth about how we would die for each other. We are friends so it is only the right things to say…right? John 15:13 says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Based off of that verse, giving your life for your friend is the only proper response. We came to the conclusion that yes, we would die for one another to save the other’s life. I thought that torture rather than death however, was kind of pushing it.

If you think about it, giving your life as a Christian, is not really that bad of an option. “Okay, I will give my life to save yours.” Or you could rephrase it a little: “Okay, I’ll go to heaven and you can spend a little more time here on earth.” If you think about it from that paradigm, giving your life for someone really is not all that bad. Again, a painful death may be kind of pushing it; but overall, the greatest display of your love could actually be a favorable outcome.

But what if the consequence was different? What if in order to save your friend you would have to go to hell? Do you care enough about someone that you would go to hell in exchange for their life?

Think about the reality of hell. It’s a place of eternal torment, fire, and anguish. Revelation 20:10 describes hell as “the lake of fire and brimstone,…and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Hell is a real place and real people are going to go there. It is the place where the wicked will be punished for all time.

Think about all the people who are closest to you: a husband or wife, girlfriend or boyfriend, mother or father, friend or brother. These are the people who you desire to be around; the people who you care about…the people you love.

Are you willing to work hard and sacrifice for them? 2 Corinthians 12:15 states, “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you…”  Would you be willing to die for that person? “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Could you really die – end your life – for your friend? Would you sacrifice all that you have to better the life of someone else? If you are not willing, do you really love that person?

If you conclude that you are, in fact, willing to be entirely spent and even sacrifice your life for that person, do you think that you would be willing to go to hell for that person? Would you be tormented for eternity in place of someone else? You may think that this extent of love is impossible. It may be rare but certainly not impossible.

In Romans we see an example of this love: “For I could wish that myself were accused from Christ for my brethren, my kindsmen according to my flesh.” Paul uses the word translated accused. This word also could be translated separated. Paul is referring to eternal separation from Christ in hell. He is saying that he wished that he could go to hell in exchange for his brethren.

So think again of those people closest to you. Could you literally say that you would go to hell in place of them? Do not just make some off the cuff decision. Be honest with yourself. Would you go to hell for your friend? If not, do you really love them?

In Exodus 32:32 we see Moses displaying this degree of love. “Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin–; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.” Moses asked God to forgive the sins of the Israelites; and if He does not forgive them, to erase his own name from the book of life. I do not know about you, but my mind has a hard time comprehending this. It is crazy to think that Moses cared so much about these people that he was willing to sacrifice his own eternity. That kind of love is mind blowing.

After reading that, ask yourself if you ever loved like that? Have you ever cared that much about a lost society? Have you ever considered that there is a real hell where real people will go? Have you considered that people you love could be going there? Have you considered that there are people around you every day who are going there?

Right now I can see about seventy people. Maybe twenty of those people are saved and on their way to heaven. That means fifty people just in my line of sight are presently on their way to hell. If these people never hear the gospel and never accept Christ as their personal savior, hell will be their eternal home. Do I love the people around me? Would I be willing to go to hell in place of these people? Moses was. Paul was willing. They both had this extreme love for their people. They had no reason to. Sure they were of the same race, but there are a lot of people in my race who I would not care about let alone give my life for. In fact, in Exodus the Israelites had just committed great sin. They deserved whatever punishment they would receive, but Moses still advocated for them by putting his own soul on the line. He loved them to the extent of eternal damnation.

Do you care about anyone like that? If so, what are you doing about it?

In all reality, we cannot go to hell in exchange for someone else soul. Each one of us is responsible for our own soul. No one can pray you out of hell, or baptize you out of hell, and no one can go down and bring you out of hell. That is not how salvation works.

Even though they could not actually sacrifice their lives, Moses and Paul clearly showed this inconceivable love. Moses knew that God was merciful but it did not stop him from advocating on behalf of the people. And Paul knew very well the plan of salvation but the love he had was still true. The love he had for his brethren motivated him to preach the gospel boldly and directly to people around him.

I ask you again: have you ever felt that deeply about the souls of men? Have you ever desired damnation upon yourself rather than on your neighbor? Have you been completely exhausted from telling others about Christ? Have you thought about how much you actually care about the destiny of the people around you? Are you willing to sacrifice some discomfort? Look with in yourself and see if you are willing to give out a gospel track, willing to go out of your way, or willing to sacrifice your time or your money. Moses and Paul were willing to sacrifice their lives. How much do you truly love the lost and what are you willing to sacrifice to save their soul from hell?

outreachblog

Outreach: Witnessing with Relationships

Matthew 28:19-20 states, “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” People call this passage “The Great Commission.” This is simply the goal and the duty as Christians and as a church, to go, to preach, to baptize, and to teach. Often times, however, Christians and churches are not fulfilling this commission.

Churches are focused on outreach and touching the community for Christ, but are failing because they are not building relationships. Sure, churches like these are reaching lives and seeing souls saved, but are they seeing lives and the community truly changed? Outreach without relationships leads to a community protected by fire insurance, but outreach with relationships leads to a community populated with firefighters.

In order to reach people beyond their soul, there needs to be a relationship developed. It is very possible for a person to be saved as a young child and the fall into the trappings of the world. The person lives his life as a carnal Christian, but he does nothing for Christ. He got fire insurance and thats all. This situation is not only very possible but is true for many people – I know people who are living and have lived like that.

God has allowed me the opportunity to help bring people to know Christ. Sadly however, a few of the people I have reached are not even in church today. A relationship was never formed and the chance to disciple was never initiated. We fell out of touch and now I just have a number in my phonebook that is disconnected. I still pray for them, but honestly, I have no clue how they are doing. A seed was planted, but it was never watered or nurtured. The “Great Commission” was not fulfilled because they were not discipled. They were won to Christ, but never baptized or discipled. The work was only half done.

On the other hand, there were people that I was able to develop relationships with. I was not always a “mentor” in the relationship, but there was a connection made. Those people are now in church, going to Sunday school, and even some working in ministries. A soul was saved, a relationship was made, and a man was discipled. Relationships is the link between saving a soul and making another soul-winner.  It is the element that will keep a man in church, then urge him to be discipled and grow. First a relationship with Christ is instituted, then a relationship with the church should be established, a relationship with a mentor can then be formed, and finally a desire for building other relationships will be created. Outreach needs to involve relationships. If it does not, then the “Great Commission” will not be fulfilled.

INSTITUTING THE RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST

Main purpose behind outreach is connecting a sinner to a Savior. We do this through scheduled outreach like Saturday soul-winning. We do this through friendships with coworkers and neighbors. Outreach is done by confrontation as well as through lifestyle evangelism. Eventually however, all witnessing becomes confrontational – you have to confront if your going to talk about someone’s sins.

We meet a lost person, we feel burdened by the Holy Spirit to witness to him, and we share Christ and His work on the cross. He gets saved, and the work of justification is done in his life. His sins are forgiven and he is on his way to heaven. But not only has the judge and magistrate of the universe forgiven his sins, but He has invited the sinner into his family. The sinner has been adopted into the family of Christ and has become a son of God. We see that even the initial part of outreach is a relationship.

Christ came to earth and died on a cross so that He could have a relationship with us. Sin separated us from God and caused enmity between Him and us. There was a wall of sin between us but Christ broke down that wall so that we could have a relationship with God. When we get saved, we don’t get amnesty from hell, but rather  access to God.

ESTABLISHING THE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CHURCH

After a relationship with Christ is formed, a relationship with the new saint and  the church needs to be initiated as well. As naturally as we would not leave a baby after it was born to fend for itself in his new world, we should not leave a baby Christian to fend for himself in his new world. A loving and nurturing relationship needs to be established with the church or the baby Christian will not grow. To avoid malnourished Christians, the relationship with the church needs to be a loving, tender, and giving relationship.

To create and establish this relationship with the baby Christian, the view of the church needs to be more than just corporal worship. Not many people will stay faithful in church if they were only going to the main worship service. The new Christians need to be connected to the church through a Sunday school. Pastor Paul Chappell said, “The Sunday school is the church organized to fulfill the purpose of the church.” If the purpose or work of the church is the “Great Commission,” then the Sunday school is the tool the church uses to complete it. The Sunday school connects the new Christians with other people with similar life circumstances. The Sunday school gives the corporate body of the church a personal touch.

FORMING THE RELATIONSHIP WITH A MENTOR

Finally, after a relationship is formed and created with Christ and with a local church, a relationship with a mentor should be established. Building that mentoring relationship is vital for the new Christian. The new Christian needs to have someone he can look up to, someone who he can model his behavior after. In 1 Thessalonians, it gives a good example of what this relationship should be like. It explains that the relationship should be like a parent and child. Just as a parent would gently nourish and care for his child as it grows, so should there be that type of relationship with a new Christian and one who is discipling.

There needs to be a mentoring relationship. There needs to be a mature Christian that will be willing to model the Christian life for a new believer. It is not easy to live under the microscope of another person, but that is a form of what discipleship is. True discipleship is mentoring and modeling the Christian life well enough so that the new Christian will be able to follow that example.

Forming a relationship with the mentor is the completion of the Great Commission and of the cycle of outreach. If a church stands by this process, (relationship with Christ, relationship with Church, and then a relationship with a Mentor) the church will multiply its impact on a community. Not only is it the most effective process but it is also the process that God designed and commanded. God designed outreach to be with relationships so that the world might be saved and that the world would become followers of God.

As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, that ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory. For this cause also thank we God without ceasing because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. for ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God[1 Thessalonians 2:11-14a]