Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Jude: The Believer's Hope

Michael Hamline concluded our 5 week study through Jude by preaching the last two doxological verses - 24 and 25.


Believers are shown 2 marvelous realities about God that must lead them to exalt Him.


I. The Reality of God's Graciousness (v. 24)
A.He Guards Our Way
B.He Completes Our Salvation

1.It results in total sinlessness
2.It results in overflowing gladness

II. The Reality of God's Greatness (v. 25)

A.It is Manifested in God's Uniqueness

B.It is Manifested in God's Attributes

1.Of Glory
2.Of Majesty
3.Of DominionOf Authority


TAKE HOME POINTS:

1) Our trust and confidence should be in God to keep us. If we are trusting in anything else then our confidence is empty.
2) As believers our hearts should be at rest knowing that it is God who is guarding/keeping us. We shouldn't fear losing our salvation.
3) Rejoice that we can trust in the promises of God to keep us safe until Christ's return.
4) Must inspect ourselves to make sure we are not stumbling and/or straying into sin. Keep a close watch on our own heart.
5) Thank God for the perfecting work he is bringing about in our lives.
6) Celebrate and overflow with joy realizing that you get to be in the very presence of God. Ask yourself if you have joy at meeting with God presently? Do you enjoy the fellowship you have with God through prayer and Scripture reading?
7) Recognize God's priority to cleanse us from all sin and take time now to flee from the sin in our own lives and put it to death.
8) What is competing for God's unique place in our live? What is crowding Him out?
9) We should acknowledge on a daily basis the attributes of God that belong to Him.
10) Are your thoughts, words, and actions bearing testimony to the fact that God is in control and is over all things?

Listen to the sermon:












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Jude: The Enemy Defeated

Michael Hamline brought us Part 4 of our 5 week study through Jude and he showed us the ultimate defeat of the enemy we've been reading about, as well as the believer's response to such enemys.

Believers are given 3 reminders on how to contend for the faith against false teachers:



I. Reminder of the Judgment Against False Teachers (v. 14-16)


II. Reminder of the Presence of False Teachers (v. 17-19)

III. Reminder of the Response to False Teachers (v. 20-23)

A. Respond With God Honoring Lives (v. 20-21)
B. Respond With Christlike Love (v. 22-23)

Listen to the sermon:


Friday, October 31, 2008

Jude: The Enemy Described




We reached Part 3 of our 5 week study through Jude and looked at his description of the false teachers in verses 8-13.

Jude describes the actions of the enemy with three directional approaches:


I. Looking Inward into the Heart to Classify their Actions

A. They were immoral
B. They were insubordinate
C. They were irreverent

II. Looking Backward into History to Curse their Actions

A. Faithless Cain
B. Greedy Balaam
C. Prideful Korah

III. Looking Outward into Nature to Compare their Actions

A. Hidden reefs
B. Waterless clouds
C. Fruitless trees
D. Wild waves
E. Wandering stars

TAKE HOME POINTS:


  1. Do you rely more on your dreams/instincts or on God’s Word?
  2. What are you involved in that is immoral, insubordinate or irreverent?
  3. Think of the life of Cain. Are you guilty of presenting an unsatisfactory offering?
  4. Think of Balaam. Do you manipulate God’s people for gain?
  5. Think of Korah. How has pride led you to resent God’s placement of you in ministry?
  6. Do you come to church to give/serve or to get/be served? Are you guilty of “shepherding yourself”?
  7. Are you all promise and no performance, pretending to be something that you’re not?
  8. What do your waves leave scattered on the shore?
  9. Are you trustworthy? Can people follow where you lead them?


    Listen to the sermon:







Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Jude: The Enemy Warned

We continued our 5 week study through the short but powerful letter from Jude and considered the warning from Jude in verses 5-7.

Jude gives us 3 reminders of God’s judgment & destruction toward those who pursue sin rather than obedience.


  1. The Jews of Israel v. 5
  2. The Angels of Heaven v.6
  3. The Gentiles of Sodom and Gomorrah v. 7

TAKE HOME POINTS:

1.Don’t pass over these warnings too quickly. Most apostates were just like us once.
2.What sins in your life are contributing to your weak faith? (cf. Hebrews) Are you repenting of them?
3.How is pride polluting your faith?
4.How is lust luring you away from the Lord?
5.Are you aware of the responsibility you have to God & His Word that is increased by being recipients of sound teaching?


Listen to the sermon:






Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Letter of Jude: The Enemy Within

Tuesday night began our 5 week study through the short but powerful letter from Jude. Aaron began our time with a brief introduction and a look at the opening 4 verses of Jude's letter.

You can listen to the sermon below:








RIGHT CLICK to download


The Letter of Jude: The Enemy Within

  1. The Humble Author of this Letter (Vs 1a)
  2. The Beloved Audience of this Letter (Vs 1b)
  3. The Gracious Greeting of this Letter (Vs 2)
  4. The Original Intent of this Letter (Vs 3a)
  5. The Necessary Appeal of this Letter (Vs 3b)
  6. The Urgent Context of this Letter (Vs 4)
    A. 3 dangerous descriptions of the false teachers
    1) Devious
    2) Destined
    3) Depraved
    B. 2 dark descriptions of their false teaching
    1) They abuse God’s grace
    2) They deny Christ’s rule

“Ungodly men are the great enemies of the faith of Christ and the peace of the church… This has been the plague of the church in all past ages, and I am afraid no age is, or will be, wholly free from such men and such practices as long as time shall last. Nothing cuts us off from the church but that which cuts us off from Christ; namely, reigning infidelity and ungodliness.”

-Matthew Henry

Monday, October 13, 2008

New Series: Jude

Jude sets out to write a letter to believers to promote their common salvation. Instead, he finds it necessary to write to them a warning - a warning to protect this salvation. What causes this concern? We'll find out over the next five weeks at 2.22. Join us on Tuesday nights at 6:30 for a meal and a study of the short epistle of Jude.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Lord, Change My Attitude About That Person” TOR16


“Lord, Change My Attitude About That Person” (Acts 9:10–19)
Prop: 3 regularly-repeated phases which call for Attitude Change


1. A difficult God given Directive (vv. 10–12)

2. A conflicting soul-born Dilemma (vv. 13–16)

A. Ananias expresses his fears over Saul (vv. 13–14)
B. The Lord authoritatively overrides Ananias’s fears (vv. 15–16)

3. A Spirit-born soft-hearted Decision (vv. 17 – 19)

A. Ananias obeyed functionally (v. 17a)
B. Ananias obeyed relationally (v. 17b.)

Take-Home Points:

  1. Being a Christian can make your life seem dangerous
  2. Being a Christian insists that you to love people you wouldn’t usually love
  3. Being a Christian means that circumstances don’t have to make sense for them to be God’s will
  4. Being a Christian comes down to being God’s instrument
  5. Being a Christian means to suffer is your privilege
  6. Being a Christian insists that you welcome all other Christians as family
  7. Being a Christian means you have a whole new outlook on life





Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Saul: Conversion by Sovereign Grace

Saul: Conversion by Sovereign Grace
Acts 9:1-9
We view Saul’s conversion through 4 windows of Sovereign Grace

1.Total Depravity
(Acts 9:1-2, 13-14; 22:4-5, 19-20); 26:10-11; Gal. 1:13-14; Phil. 3:6; 1 Tim. 1:13, 15)

2.Unconditional Election
(Acts 9:3-4, 7, 15-16; 22:6, 9, 14; 26:13, Gal. 1:13-16; Phil. 3:8-9; 1 Tim. 1:12-13)

3.Irresistible Grace
(Acts 9:3-6; 22:6-8, 10, 14; 26:13-18; Gal. 1:12, 16; Phil. 3:9; 1 Tim. 1:13)

4.Perseverance of the Saints
(Acts 9:7-9, 11, 15-16, 19-22; 22:10, 15-21; 26:19-22, 24-25; Gal. 1:16-18; Phil. 1:8-15; 1 Tim. 1:18-20)

Take-Home Points

  1. The Doctrines of Grace contrary to their ivory tower stigma are pulsating with life
  2. These doctrines shout what’s obvious: God saved you – you did not save you
  3. Realize. Saul’s conversion is your conversion – his testimony is your testimony
  4. Taking a look at how abhorrent you once were toward God is a healthy exercise
  5. Grasping your total depravity unlocks the other Doctrines of Grace, and rightly applied should cause gratitude and worship
  6. By definition the doctrine of eternal security makes persevering automatic – “Once saved always saved” means “Once saved will persevere”
Listen to "Saul: Conversion by Sovereign Grace"






Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Spirit Then. The Spirit Now. TOR14

The Spirit Then. The Spirit Now.
Acts 8:26-40

Lets take a spiritual diagnostic. From Acts 8:26-40, we see 4 comparisons between how the Spirit led Philip and how the Spirit leads today.

I. Philip receiving direct revelation compared to you indirectly discerning God’s will (vv. 26 – 29)

a. The Spirit led Philip through direct revelation
b. The Spirit again led Philip through direct revelation

II. Philip’s ministering the Word compared to you ministering the Word (vv. 30 – 35)

a. Philip providentially heard the eunuch reading Isaiah (our same Isaiah) (v. 30)
b. Philip taught the eunuch through redemptive history – connecting the dots that culminate with “the good news about Jesus” (v. 35)

III. The Spirit regenerating the eunuch compared to the Spirit regenerating people today (vv. 36 – 38)

a. The eunuch’s new heart spontaneously desired to obey (vv. 36 – 37)
b. The eunuch was baptized (v. 39)
c. The eunuch “went on his way rejoicing” (v. 39)

IV. The Spirit’s transportation service then compared to now (vv. 39 - 40)

a. “the Spirit…carried Philip away” (v. 39)
b. “the eunuch saw him no more” (v. 39)
c. Philip passed through towns and preached the gospel (v. 40)

Take-Home Questions:

1. Do you assume that the Holy Spirit is leading you? (Rom. 8:14)
2. Do you assume being led by direct revelation takes less faith then being led by personal discernment?
3. Do you assume the Lord speaking by direct revelation meant He was more involved in early church ministry?
4. Do you assume the Spirit’s leadership is as precise as it was in the early church?
5. Do you assume the Spirit places people in your path for you to sow, water, and reap with the Gospel?
6. Do you assume Word of God can bring radical transformation when someone understands it?
7. Do you assume you are a person who can explain the Word of God to others and that the Spirit will lead you to do so?
8. Do you assume that people with regenerate hearts will spontaneously obey?
9. Do you assume you know the Spirit’s plan for your life – going to a Samaria – the desert – Azotus?

Listen to the message "The Spirit Then. The Spirit Now".

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Joy and Pain of Authentic Gospel Ministry

Last night Pastor Jeff picked up with the revolution in Acts chapter 8 and the apparent conversion of Simon the magician.

The Joy and Pain of Authentic Gospel Ministry

I. The seed of the martyr is sown (Acts 8:1-3)

II. The message is spread through Samaria (Acts 8:4-8)

a. Spiritual opposition (Acts 8:9-11)
b. Genuine belief (Acts 8:12)
c. Alleged belief (Acts 8:13)

III. The harvest is affirmed by Apostles (Acts 8:14-17)

IV. The apostate is rebuked by Apostles (Acts 8:18-25)


Hear the message "The Joy and Pain of Authentic Gospel Ministry".



Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Door of Hope Concert

Join us for a free night of music and missions.
Bible Church of Little Rock
19111 Cantrell Road, LR AR 72223
for more information visit

Sunday, September 14, 2008

New College Equipping Hour Class

If you are between the ages of 18-22 consider joining our new College-Aged class. We are meeting during equipping hour (9am) every Lord’s Day in room A-208, and are launching a new study on Colossians called Christ Preeminent - Christ in you.

Whether you are a local university or college student, a young professional, or a rising senior we want to warmly welcome you to this class. Our purpose is to build relationships, worship together, to be challenged by the truth and to more intimately know the Lord.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Light Contrasting Darkness - TOR12

Last night we ended chapter 7 of Acts and once again someone died. This time it's not because someone lied to God, it's because someone lived for God. Have you ever wondered why Jesus stood up for Stephen as he was being stoned to death? Pastor Jeff addressed this intriguing question and took us into the incredible true story of the martyrdom of Stephen.

Light Contrasting Darkness Acts 7:54-60

I. A Dark Response (v. 54)
II. An Illumined Perspective (v. 55)
III. An Illumined Testimony (v. 56)
IV. A Dark Attack (vv. 57-58)
V. Illumined Prayers (vv. 59-60)


Take-home points:

  1. It is dangerous to your soul to let anger fester
  2. Witnessing should first be about God before its about people
  3. When your witness is rejected, people are rejecting first God before you
  4. Try not to lose hope over lost people – God saves a murderer
  5. The ultimate end of unrepentant anger is murder
  6. Even if you’re not a Martyr, die praying like Jesus prayed

Hear the message "Light Contrasting Darkness".




Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Church Growth Movement

Our focus last night was in Acts 5:12-42 as Jeff taught about the ORIGINAL church growth strategy and it's results.

The Church Growth Movement
The cause and effect of the living church

I. A Church Growth Movement (vv. 12-16)

a. Many signs and wonders were done (v. 12)
b. Many feared joining the church (v. 13)
c. Many believers did join the church (v. 14)
d. Many were healed (vv. 15-16)

II. A Church Warfare Movement (vv. 17-42)

a. First attempt to stop preaching - Caging the preachers (vv. 17-26)
i. The religious leaders got jealous of the Apostles (v. 17)
ii. The religious leaders imprisoned the Apostles (v. 18)
iii. An angel delivered the Apostles and commanded them to preach (vv. 19-21)
iv. The religious leaders discovered the Apostles were out preaching (vv. 21b-25)
v. The religious leaders “brought them, but not by force” to reiterate for them not to preach (v. 26)

b. Second attempt to stop preaching – Lecturing the preachers (vv. 27-33)
i. The Apostles said we need to obey God not man (v. 29)
ii. The Apostles preached the Gospel to the religious leaders (vv.30-32)
iii. The religious leaders “were enraged” (v. 33)

c. Third attempt to stop preaching – Beating the preachers (vv. 34-42)
i. Gamaliel provides good counsel (vv. 34-39)
ii. The religious leaders beat the Apostles (v. 40)
iii. The Apostles rejoiced, were deeply moved, and kept preaching and teaching like mad men (vv. 41-42)

Take-home points:

1. God’s power is attractive to believers and unattractive to unbelievers
a. God’s power has been regarded as foolish, fake, and unimpressive
b. God’s power has been regarded as satanic
c. God’s power in this case was regarded as scary
d. God’s power in this case also was provoked jealously (and rage cf. v. 33)


2. God’s power was more than a sign - meeting physical needs

3. Spiritual warfare centered around teaching the preaching the Gospel – the miraculous taking a back seat
a. Yes, the angle of the Lord performed a miracle but the goal comes back to speaking the words of Life
b. The concern of the high priest was to gag the Apostles


4. Sometimes Christians are physically protected and sometimes not
a. The officers’ fear of being stoned kept them from harming the Apostles at one point
b. Later, the officers beat the Apostles


5. There are principles of obedience where the Christian must not compromise
a. God’s law supersedes man’s law
b. Disobeying the law of the land becomes your integrity and testimony
c. Discerning when this applies is not always easy to do


6. Gamaliel’s passive defense of the Apostles is a window into God’s providential involvement through unbelievers

7. We must be willing to “suffer dishonor for Christ”
a. This willingness is active when you’re joyful when wronged
b. This willingness is active when you’re humbly grateful to be shamed for Christ


8. You’re goal as a Christian is to declaratively clarify to others that Jesus is the only way – the only Savior from sin

Hear the message "The Church Growth Movement".

Monday, August 04, 2008

2.22 Links

Ok - I've faced reality and will no longer call these "Week Links", since I can't seem to post them weekly. We'll just call them, "2.22 Links":

New Book: Nathan Busenitz from Pulpit Magazine has a new book dealing with science, faith and our Creator.


New Music: From Sovereign Grace Music: Psalms

New Movie: Pixar's next one. (HT: Challies)

New Blog: For all you Greek scholars and wanna-be's, Zondervan starts blogging. Contributors include the likes of Mounce, Waltke, Longman, Bock, Kaiser & others.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

They Lied. They Died. - TOR8

Last night Aaron Wilson preached through the account of Ananias & Sapphira being struck dead by God after lying about an free-will offering.

He mentioned a sermon by C.J. Mahaney that helped him prepare for this message and encouraged everyone to take time to listen. You can find the sermon here.

Also note the iPod image in the sidebar. Click on this image to visit a new mp3 sermon collection by preachers such as Mahaney, MacArthur, Piper, Carson and many more.

Aaron's message - the 8th in our current series "The Original Revolution" - is available below.

They Lied. They Died.

Acts 4:32-5:11 - A Shocking Contrast of 2 Worshipers:

I. The Context – The Unity of Community (4:32-35)
A. Unified living
B. Selfless giving
C. Sacrificial giving
D. Voluntary giving

II. The Positive Example of the Devoted Worshiper (4:36-37)
A. The “son of encouragement”
B. The simple example

III. The Negative Example of the Deceptive Worshiper (5:1-11)
A. The people
B. The problem
C. The result

Take Home Points:

1. Remember, the church is not perfect.
2. God does not want sin in His church.
3. The church is only as effective as her people are pure.
4. If we want power – we must have purity.
5. Are you guilty of lying to God the Holy Spirit?
6. Do you understand the danger of lying?
7. Do material possessions keep you from fully devoted worship?
8. Do you find it difficult to accept such swift & sudden judgment from God?









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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Praying "Sovereign Lord" - TOR7

We continued in our study in the book of Acts entitled "The Original Revolution". Last night's message looked at the apostles prayer and God's response as the sovereign Lord.about.

Praying "Sovereign Lord" Acts 4:23-31
The early church climbed 3 steps toward God in prayer:
1. They Extolled God’s Character
  • He’s Creator
  • He’s Spoken

2. They Affirmed Fulfilled Prophecy of the Cross

  • Man’s sin against Christ
  • God’s detailed plan

3. They Requested Enablement

  • They didn’t ask for persecution to end.
  • They asked for enablement to obey
Here are the implications/applications


1. The greatest comfort for the believer is the Sovereignty of God

2. Community strengthens faith

  • Praying, singing, hearing the Word corporately is designed to do this
  • You shouldn’t feel guilty that your spiritual life is stronger in community

3. Pray Scripture

  • The Word makes sense of what’s happening to you
  • The Word gives you material to pray

4. Don’t assume it’s supposed to get easier

5. Watch for God’s affirmations





Thursday, July 17, 2008

Books on Sovereignty, Evangelism & Evil in the World

Tuesday night we heard a great message on the Sovereignty of God from our teaching pastor Lance Quinn. You can go here to listen*. It's part 3 of the "Truth for Life - Loved By God" series. After the message, Pastor Lance answered a question dealing with the issues of God's sovereignty, evangelism and the origin of evil in the world. He recommended several resources that address these issues and we've linked them below

*The Sermon audio may not be up until later in the week.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Whom Will You Serve? TOR6

Michael Hamline continued carrying us through our study in the book of Acts entitled "The Original Revolution". His thorough understanding of the text (Acts 4:1-22) and excellent application left us with much to think about.

Whom Will You Serve?
Agents Through Which God is Pleased to Work

I. The Penetrating Word of God (v. 1-4)

A. Opposing the Word of God (v. 1-3)
B. Trusting the Word of God (v.4)
II. The Saving Name of Jesus (v.5-12)

A. An Arrogant Question (v.5-7)
Deuteronomy 13:1-5
B. A Confident Answer (v. 8-12)
Luke 12:11,12; 21:14,15
1. Jesus is the Source (v.9-10)
2. Jesus is the Stone (v. 11)
Ps. 118:22; Mk 12:1-12 (also cf. Mt. 21: 33-46; Luke 20:9-20; Eph. 2:20; I Pe. 2:4-7)
3. Jesus is the Way of Salvation (v. 12)
John 14:6 "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

III. The Persevering Witness of God's Saints (v. 13-22)
A. It is Bold (v.13-14)
John 7:14,15
B. It is Christ-centered (v.15-19)
C. It is Unafraid (v. 20-22)

References as Concerns the Sanhedrin's persecution of the early church:

  • Acts 5:25, 33, 40-- arrested the apostles, wanted to kill them, beat them
  • Acts 6:12-15; 7:1; 58-60-- dragged Stephen before the Sanhedrin; questioned by the council and then stoned by sanction of the council
  • Acts 8:1-3--Saul persecuting the church and dragging believers off to prison
  • Acts 9:1-2--Saul going abroad to Damascus to arrest believers and bring them back to Jerusalem.

Here are the implications/applications

1) As Christians, we will face opposition and persecution from unbelievers, those opposed to the truth.

2) It is through God's Word that change is brought about in the human heart (Acts 4:4).

3) God's plan can't be thwarted by men. He will accomplish what he has purposed.

4) We must proclaim salvation in Christ alone. No other name or person can save, but Jesus. This is not popular but it is true and we must be faithful to proclaim it without reservation or shame.

5) We must confront people with their sin and we should realize this is the most loving thing we can do. The results are up to God.

6) Study our Old Testament and see how it points to Jesus.

7) Fear God and not man. Realize we must obey God over human authority if the government is calling on us to disobey God.

8) Praise God for the way He transforms our lives through the work of the Spirit



Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Here's Your Sign: Jesus - TOR5


We're continuing in our series in Acts called "The Original Revolution". Below are Pastor Jeff's outline for Acts chapter 3 as well as his "Take Home Points" for your own personal application.

The Original Revolution: Part 5
Here's Your Sign: JESUS
Acts 3:1-26
I. An Unmistakable Sign (vv. 1-10)

  1. A routine hour to pray (v. 1)
  2. A reasonable request (vv. 2-3)
  3. An unexpected reply (vv. 4-6)
  4. A comprehensive miracle (vv. 7-8 cf. v. 16)
  5. An unmistakable Sign (vv. 9-10)

II. A Guilt Laying – Guilt Lifting Sermon (vv. 11-26)

  1. A wow factor (vv. 10b-11)
  2. A focus shift (vv. 12-13)
  3. A guilt laying word (vv. 14-16)
  4. A guilt lifting word (vv. 17-26)

Take-home points:

  1. The Holy Spirit primarily works within routine
  2. The Gospel is designed to meet both moral and situational evil (categories taken from Power Encounters by David Powlison)
  3. Miraculous healing in the Bible is always a sign and always comprehensive
  4. It is a fight to value spiritual healing above physical healing
  5. Elevating man undoes the glory of God
  6. The real Jesus comes from real redemptive history
  7. Understanding Jesus was murdered unlocks the guilt of the cross
  8. Ignorance of our sin and God’s holiness is grace
  9. Genuine repentance will transform your shame to joy

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Church is Born - TOR4

So what was it like back during the birth of the New Testament church? Should our church today look like the one in Acts?
Tuesday night we finished part 4 in our study of Acts called The Original Revolution. Jeff preached through Acts 2:14-47 and gave us much to consider regarding how we are to share the message of Christ and how we are to relate to one another within the body.

Below are the "take home points" from Jeff's message.


1. Not looking for Jesus throughout the Bible is not reading the Bible as a Christian should.

  • It’s more than okay to look for Jesus in all 66 books of the Bible
  • You shouldn’t be able to have sweet fellowship with a Jewish Rabbi over an OT Bible study – something should be missing
  • Probably your main struggle with the OT is that you’re not searching for Jesus in it

2. Read the Gospels regularly

  • You should have a working knowledge of the Gospels
  • Read John with themes in mind
  • Look up OT quotes found in Gospels and NT

3. The reason people leave Jesus out of the OT or NT is their religion is Moralism or Legalism

  • Jesus was and is not a legalist
  • Obedience for Jesus is always from the heart
  • Jesus taught the Law of Love

4. You need to work at talking about Jesus more

  • Our sin competes against loving him
  • Talking about Jesus takes faith
  • It is easy not to talk about Jesus – It’s easy to change the subject

5. Talking TO Jesus jumpstarts talking ABOUT Him

6. Talking about Jesus with others will change lives

7. It can be the most loving action to call someone to repent and the most unloving action not to

8. Your commitment to your church body [like to Christ] must be All or Nothing

  • A lacking blasé commitment to your church community will hurt you – breeding consumerism and/or cynicism
  • Half-hearted swimming ultimately causes you to drown
  • A fiery whole-hearted sacrificial commitment makes it REAL - spawning joy and devotion to others and to Jesus

9. Expect God to add people to his church

  • For some the Gospel will be very attractive
  • For some whole-hearted community will be very attractive

Are You Guilty of "Greeting Card Worship"?

Have you been watching the Feature Feed in the sidebar? Michael Hamline has & brought this article to my attention. We thought it deserved it's own post here at 222mission. Thanks for the tip Michael!

Have you ever stopped to consider what it must be like to work for Hallmark or another of the companies that create greeting cards? Imagine spending your whole day attempting to come up with wonderful statements of deep feeling—love, remorse, sympathy—yet without feeling any of the associated emotions. Imagine having to write words that express sympathy, yet not feeling any sympathy yourself. Or imagine having to write words that can express the deep, passionate love a man has for his wife as they celebrate fifty years of marriage, but without having ever experienced that sort of love yourself. It must be very odd to spend the whole day writing words of love and passion from a husband to a wife but then return alone to an empty home and a life lived alone.

I fear that all too often I, as a Christian, can worship God in just this way.

Read the entire article.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Reality TV: Just Watching People Work

I guess all Reality TV has one thing in common: everybody’s working. Whether people are racing, surviving, building stuff, designing rooms, cutting business deals, singing, flirting, losing weight, parenting, or whatever…they’re working. It’s been said that people love to watch Reality TV so much because people love to watch other people work. There must be something relaxing to watching people do what they themselves have been doing all day. I have to admit that it is.

Recently I surveyed the phrase “under the sun” from Ecclesiastes and found that it’s repeated 27 times in the 12 chapters. Solomon’s phrase (though scribed several millennia ago) describes all dimensions of today’s hurried, fast paced, active, Starbucks -drinking, cyclical rat race that we call life.

4 times Solomon plays the pessimist about life “under the sun.” 2 times life is an injustice, 6 times its evil, 5 times its either bad, good, or blasé and 3 times he says you should suck all the joy out of life you can. Translation: get Starbucks with friends when possible because there are no guarantees.

What was curious is that 7 times (the most of any category) it refers to working (“toil” in ESV). For Solomon the monotony of work can be a big bummer unless you get outside yourself or can look above the sun. I can’t argue that watching people work isn’t fascinating. But I’d guess Solomon - even watching work all dressed up on TV - would say its pretty empty (Ecclesiastes 2).

Hope to see you this Lord's day at 9am as we continue our study in Ecclesiastes, From Vanity to Sanity: Fear, Judgment, Obedience.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Speaking the language: Interpreting Tongues from Acts

Last night from our study on Pentecost (Download message here) I told you how important it is for you to let Acts 2 govern your understanding of the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues. I primarily got my points from John Stott (The Message of ACTS). I said you’ve got to start with Acts 2:1-13. If you don’t, you set yourself up to read your experiences back into the Bible instead of vise versa. What I mean is that it could be easy to go to a charismatic church (or watch a service on TV) and assume what you see is biblical because they call what they’re doing speaking in tongues. It can become easy to rationalize to yourself, "I don’t see this in my church, so they must be afraid of the Holy Spirit" or you think they're ignoring passages like Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 13-14.

Don’t do this. Instead just begin with Acts 2 where the Bible actually portrays what speaking in tongues looks like and use that as a grid for understanding the other New Testament references. Stott makes a big deal over the fact that the Greek words for “Tongue” and “Interpret” are the same throughout the New Testament. So though there are some functional differences between Pentecost and 1 Corinthians 13-14, we’re really talking about the same gift. A New Testament tongue is always either the organ/body part or a known language and the word for “interpret” is always in concert with known languages (Stott).

I’m not saying that by first reading Acts 2 and then reading Paul in 1 Corinthians 13-14 that these debates magically disappear. But at least Acts gives you some sure footing. You choose - do you want to start with TBN, Benney Hinn, Kenneth Copeland or Joyce Meyers? Do you want to start with personal anecdotes like the late night spooky stories you swapped with dorm buddies around microwave popcorn by a desk lamp? Or with the Lord’s inspired story from Acts? I choose Acts.

This forms a couple of presuppositions. First of all, I understand that the gift of tongues for the early church was a revelatory gift. A gift designed by God to communicate truth to his church during the Apostalic age as the Bible was being written. In this way, it makes sense for me to read 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 to say that this gift was going to fade out when the Apostles did. When 1 Corinthians 13:8 says, “they will cease” (literally “[tongues] will cease themselves”), I conclude they did, and that they did before the “perfect” comes (1 Cor. 13:10). This is how it seems to play out in the storyline of Acts and why this gift is found only in one of Paul’s letters which happens to be the earliest epistle written in the New Testament.

So, not only do I see that it “ceased” with the Apostolic age but I also believe the gift served a distinct purpose for that distinct period. It was a significant a sign. Every time this gift happened, it was a sign of cursing on Israel for rejecting Jesus and of blessing to the church for accepting Jesus. Paul makes this very clear when he cites Isaiah 28:11-12 in his argument in 1 Corinthians 14:19-22. Pentecost marks a dramatic shift in God’s kingdom program – the church was now born! God’s glory was manifested as a pillar of fire for Israel and now was manifested as “tongues of fire” hovering over his new people. The church - a multi-language, multi-nation, multi-culture people - was suddenly seeing, experiencing, and speaking “the mighty works of God” (Acts 2:11). One last challenge for understanding tongues from 1 Corinthians 13-14 is to remember that Paul’s main point was not to coach the early church to speak in tongues. He was rebuking Corinth for not being a loving church (1 Cor. 13:1-13). Paul was telling them to stop showing off which was turning believers and unbelievers away from truth. Understanding Paul’s intent puts many of his sarcastic and instructive points from chapter 14 in context.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest let me say I’m no expert on the spiritual gifts. I recognize that there is a spectrum for where you can fall in terms of being a cessationist and/or a continuationist. You obviously can believe revelatory gifts are for today and be theologically strong (i.e. Wayne Grudem for one). In fact I recommend Grudem's "4 Views" book where Dr. Robert Saucy takes a “cautious but open” position. I may actually find myself more in his camp when all is said and done. For a quick and clear Bible study on these issues I also recommend the notes from Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 13-14 from The MacArthur Study Bible. For a more detailed recitation from John MacArthur go to his book Charismatic Chaos.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

2.22 Week Links

Another heapin' helpin' from the world wide web:

Politics: Pulpit Magazine is posting a series on the Gospel and Politics.

Study Bibles: In case you weren't aware, Crossway is releasing the ESV Study Bible in October. Justin Taylor announces a "pre-release" sample: Introduction to the Book of Revelation. Download it here.

Summer Reading: Al's list - Part One & Two. CJ's list.

Car Crash: Josh Harris & kids weren't hurt - praise the Lord - but he totaled his friend's car on Father's day.