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The Real Surprise at the Grammys

by Pastor Alan Davis

There has been a lot of hoopla concerning the actions of many at the Grammy Awards Ceremony this past Sunday evening. Some sat back appalled at the perversion, crassness and coarseness of the evenings’ events and others have had their hackles up because some nominees either left early or did not show at all for the awards ceremony. Many parents have written, called or text their great displeasure at some of the “show” and many Christians have taken to Facebook, Twitter and other areas of social media to express their disgust with the whole “shebang”.

I want to put out a disclaimer here right off the bat: I did not watch any of the Grammys. Actually I had no idea they were even happening. With a Church to minister to, sermons to prepare for, evangelism to do, three children with a host of activities that I play a small part in and several good books that I have going, I have no time for what the rich and famous are doing. In short I actually have a life and live it regardless of what the artist crowd is doing. To be very transparent here, I could not care less who gets what for what song. I don’t care what Katy Perry is doing, ever! Nor do I care what Keith Urban thinks about anything. These are human beings who happen to be fortunate enough to sell their wares to people who seemingly have no life of their own and must in some sick way live vicariously through someone else. These so-called “artist” will die one day just like you and me and will take nothing with them and face a Holy God who will judge them based only on how they responded to His Son, Jesus Christ. The only concern I have for any of them is concern for their soul. (Even as a lost young man I cared nothing for what the “rich and famous did”, I had a life then too.)

And I will admit that I find it somewhat self-promoting for Christian artists to even take part in such a worldly affair and seek the accolades of men. Imagine having an awards ceremony for preachers!? We could have the best act preacher, the best dressed preacher, the loudest preacher, the best expository preacher, the best textual preacher, on and on ad nauseam. Silly, right? So why should those who say they sing for the glory of God seek any more accolades than you would expect out of those who preach the glorious gospel? But we will leave that for another blog another time.

Here is my point (or points!) for this past Grammys. Why does it surprise many Christians when they watch a worldly show of mostly worldly people owned by worldly people and expect anything different? Lost people are going to act like lost people. The mass homosexual marriage circus act, the demon whatever Perry act, and Beyoncé and Jay-z being, well Beyoncé and Jay-Z, should not surprise Christians. The old adage of “you get what you pay for” comes into play here. You take lost people, let them basically control the evening and live in a self-absorbed world, and what did you expect? Really, did you expect Beyoncé to come out like Ruth Graham? Did you expect “I Kissed a Girl and Liked It” Perry to come out and be all wholesome and all? Did you expect the Grammys to support traditional marriage or any scriptural stance of any kind? If you did then I have some ocean front property in Arizona to sell you. Actually I like that they “came out”. The mask of false fronted decency is off and those who care not a whit about God or His Word are being seen for what they are: lost, wicked sinners who love their sin.  The lines have become more distinct between night and day. We (the American Church) have tried way too hard to be friends with the world.   Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” (1Jn 2:15-17)

These folks of the Grammys were just giving us a clear and living illustration of Rom. 1, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.  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: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:  Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” (Rom 1:18-25) 

However, the lost people playing out Romans 1 was not the real surprise of the evening. No sir, not at all. The real surprise (are you ready!?), the real surprise was all the Christians who flew home from a worship service of the Holy God of the universe to turn on that trash. The Christians who even decided not to attend their evening church services so they could partake in this perverted, demonic, sinful promotion – that is the real surprise! Another real surprise is the parents that let their children watch this filth, knowing the past of people like Jay-Z and company. Come on, get real, you had to know that the sewer was going to open up, do not act so surprised. And another surprise is the fact that many will excuse their actions away. Not the lost sinners who performed their wicked acts but the Christians who wanted to be entertained by the wickedness. Many in Lots family loved the sin of their sin-sick country and perished with them.know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.  (Jas 4:4)

So what do we do? Well for starters let’s pray. Pray that God would change the hearts of the lost people who were acting like lost people. Pray that we will be more sensitive to sin and its disastrous effects. Pray that we as Christians will act with grace and share the gospel with grace. Pray that God would bring conviction on the Christians who support such crassness. Pray that all of us as Christians will be a little bit more discerning of what we take part in. Pray and thank God for at least two Christian artists who either left or did not attend and that others would do the same. Pray that God would keep each other strong in the faith. “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”  (1Co 10:11-12) 

Next, let us look at ourselves and discern if we, as Christians, are more interested in entertainment and amusement than the Cross? Let us be honest with the Father and seek His will through His Word and let’s be a light of truth and holiness, not false piousness but real holiness that God gives us through sanctification, the setting apart from the common and unholy.  There are many times and instances that we must deny ourselves the things of this world that run opposite of God’s Word in order to strive for the faith. “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mat 16:24)

 

  Sola Scriptura,
Pastor Alan Davis
Woodland Baptist Church
1/28/2014

 

Handling Controversy Like a Soldier of the Cross

by Pastor Alan Davis

The latest media blitz on the GQ interview with Duck Dynasty star Phil Roberson has enraged many on both sides. One side cries free speech suppressed, the other, hate speech propagated. A&E has suspended Phil and A&E has gone into the usual hyper-tolerance stance for those whose values are, well, made of rubber but who also want to make sure the profits keep rolling in. A&E has every right to act according to their contract with Phil and I am sure Phil, armed with high paying lawyers, will make them step appropriately. Phil seems to be taking it well and like a Christian should take it. I support everyone’s right to free speech and also support business’s right to make adjustments per legal agreements. Many times I do not LIKE either, but must live with it.

Many Christians are up in arms and demanding that A&E reinstate Phil. We have every right to do this also. I would think that the appropriate action if we, as Christians, really mean what we say is to give A&E a few days to think it over and if we are still incensed at A&E’s actions to CANCEL our subscription with A&E and tell them (or our cable dealer) exactly why we are cancelling. This is what I plan on doing; however it is a free choice for all.

I, however, do not see this as a great big deal. Do we as Christians think the world agrees with us? Do we believe the world is going to be happy when we stand for God’s Truth? Have we actually read the Scriptures and what they say about all this? “Beloved think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you. But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” 1Peter4:12-13.

It would seem we should be rejoicing that we have a Christian with national exposure who is actually suffering for the sake of the gospel (though his suffering is not like a Christian in the Sudan would suffer). This actually shows there is a real difference in what we believe and what the world believes. We should graciously attempt to exercise our rights, however we should see the anger of the world as a sign that we actually stand against it and not with it. There seems to be a line being drawn in the sand between the true church and the rest of the world today. This is only God’s Word coming to fruition. These things will get worse and worse we are told, however, instead of being the angry people demanding protection from a humanistic political front, we should look towards our Savior and count it all joy for the sake of the gospel. Knowing that this is a sign we are His. “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death.” Phil. 3:10. If we have truly died to ourselves and have been resurrected with Him, we gave up our “rights” at the Cross.

SOLA SCRIPTURA,
Pastor Alan Davis
Woodland Baptist Church
12/19/2013

The Only Hope for Rebels

By Pastor Alan Davis

Imagine a good king who is asked to forgive a rebel who has rebelled against his kingdom. The king asks if the rebel has a desire to quit his rebellion and pledge allegiance to the king. The answer is no; the rebel wants a pardon for his crimes but will not quit the crimes nor pledge allegiance to the king. It would be unthinkable for the king to give mercy and grace to the rebel since he has no desire to quit his crimes and rebellion against the king and pledge allegiance to the king and the king’s laws.

The Scriptures declare that God is the author, creator and sovereign ruler over all that is. The Scriptures proclaim God the Father has declared God the Son, Jesus Christ, as the King of kings and the Lord of lords worthy of complete obedience. God the Father has granted to God the Son the absolute right to reign, rule and judge their creation, particularly mankind.

Exo 20:3,5  You shall have no other gods before me…You shall not bow down to them, or serve them:

Rev 19:16  On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

Php 2:10  so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth

As our sovereign ruler, what does God have to say about mankind and his condition? First, God says mankind has a problem and that problem is our sin, or rather, our rebellion against God.

Rom 3:23  For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God

1 John 1:8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

Jas 2:10  For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.

God’s Word says none of us escape this problem. ALL have sinned. Have you ever told a lie of any kind? Have you ever stolen something, even something small? Have you ever even thought a lustful thought about another person that is not your spouse? Have you ever had hatred in your heart even for a moment? Have you ever used God’s name as a curse word or a by-word? Do you see now how that ALL have sinned? We all stand before God in our sin, our rebellion against Him as our sovereign ruler. We are guilty of rebelling against God with our sin. God has given His perfect law to us in the Ten Commandments. Mankind has broken these laws, no one has kept them perfectly and Jesus said if you have broken one you are guilty of breaking all of them. WE ARE GUILTY BEFORE GOD.

Due to our guilt, mankind will receive judgment and punishment by our just Creator and King.

This rebellion against God, the King of glory, will be judged. Hebrews 9:27 tells us, And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment. God will judge us and punish us with a just and righteous penalty; separation and alienation from Him in a place called hell for all of eternity.

Isa. 59:2  but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.

James 1:15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Rev. 21:8   But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Rev. 22:12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

This can and should bring fear to our hearts and minds. The Bible says:

Prov.1:7 the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom

Heb.10:31 it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of  the living God.

Our position, guilty before God and deserving of God’s judgment and penalty, should concern us greatly. Because of our rebellion and guilt we stand as enemies of God. This is not a position to take lightly. Our eternity is at stake here and we are guilty of rebelling against the God of glory. We can do nothing about our position in and of ourselves. The Scriptures declare the most righteous man as guilty before God deserving of God’s righteous judgment and condemnation.

In God’s love and for His glory He has made a provision for those who will hear and heed. The Bible says that there is no remission of sin without the shedding of blood. Mankind has broken Gods law over and over; therefore, we cannot offer a perfect sacrifice for our own sins. Only God can do that and He did that through His eternal Son, Jesus Christ.

Rom. 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1Cor. 15:3-4 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,  (4)  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures

Jesus Christ bore all the sins of all who will fully trust in Him as Savior and Lord. At the cross, Jesus who never once sinned became our sin. Our sin was imputed to the perfect Son of God.  Because He took on our sin God’s wrath was poured out upon the Son at the cross. All of God’s wrath and condemnation due upon us was poured out on the Son at the cross. According the God’s Word in Isaiah this pleased the Father to pour His wrath on the Son who became sin for all who would repent and believe. The Scriptures declare Jesus is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. This Provision of Jesus Christ as our perfect sacrifice taking the judgment, condemnation and wrath of God for our sins giving us mercy, grace and forgiveness, is a beautiful picture of God’s love for mankind and His perfect justice.

1Jn 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

However, God’s forgiveness is not automatic to mankind. Even the demons and the Devil believe Jesus is God’s Son. Jesus said that on judgment day many will say to Him they had done ministry in His name and He said He will cast them away. It is not enough to just simply believe with a head-knowledge of Jesus or with a mere mental assent to who Jesus is. One can easily agree with the demons of hell on who Jesus is and still not possess a saving faith which is an active and live faith. This forgiveness is only available to those who come on a Scriptural basis for salvation.

Jesus came preaching saying, “Repent and believe in the gospel” Mark 1:15; Jesus also said unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:3. Repent means to turn away from; to have a complete change of mind and outlook. One who will not turn from their sin and turn to Jesus Christ of the Scriptures, believing on Him for salvation from sin and eternal life, cannot be saved. The rich young ruler in Matt. 19 came asking Jesus how to have eternal life. He seemed very sincere and very moral. Jesus did not ask him to pray a quick prayer and rush the young man into membership class. He used God’s laws to search out the young man’s heart. The young man was unwilling to give up a certain sin to follow Jesus. Jesus asked the young man to give up his covetousness and THEN follow Him. The young man would have none of it. He loved his sin of covetousness and he went away sorrowful but NOT repentant. He would not turn from his sin and follow Jesus. Some practices of modern day evangelism would have run after him and begged him to say the sinner’s prayer and tell him we can deal with his sin later. Not Jesus. Jesus demanded the sinner turn from his sin and follow Him. It would do us well in this day and age to make sure to tell sinners unless they will turn from their sin and to Jesus they cannot be saved. Repentance is not just a one time “I’m sorry” and then back to the sinning business. Many who enter our churches today stay a little and then are right back into sin because in our fervor to grow rolls we neglect in one way or another being clear of the demands of Jesus for true Salvation.

2 Cor.7:9 -10   As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.  (10)  For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

Mat 16:24  Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

To repent of our sin means more than just being sorry we got caught. Biblical repentance means we are sorry we have sinned against our holy God. We have a broken heart for rebelling against God and we are willing to turn our backs on sin against God. This means we are willing to let go of all known sin and confess this to God and trust in Jesus as our Savior from our sins and as Lord over our lives. Certainly to “deny” one’s self would be to turn on our indulgent and lustful sins that are a rebellion against God. We must repent of our sins, let them go, and trust in Jesus and His sacrifice at the cross to receive forgiveness and God’s offer of salvation. A just King cannot forgive a rebel who will not give up his rebellion against the King.

Let’s review:

  1. All of mankind, and thus you, have sinned against God. Sin is the breaking of God’s law in anyway. Our sin is rebellion against a holy God and you are guilty of that.
  2. Our sin, particularly your sin, has alienated you from God and you will be judged when you die. The penalty for your sin is to be cast away from God forever in a place called hell which is a place of eternal torment and the wrath of God.
  3. God made a just and merciful provision of a sacrifice for sin by offering His Son, Jesus Christ to die on the cross and take the wrath, condemnation and judgment for sin. This provision is only available to those who will…
  4. Repent and believe the gospel. Turn from your sins (letting them go) and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

Jesus said to count the cost of following Him. He also said that if you follow Him the world may hate you and persecute you and that you must be willing to forsake your sins to follow Him. But He also reminded us that unless we follow Him we will not see God and we will not know true peace and joy. The only way to experience forgiveness and the true love of God is to come to Him by repenting of your sins and believing on Jesus Christ, His sacrifice and resurrection.

So is there hope for you as a rebel against God?  Absolutely; IF you will turn from your sin and trust in Christ. If God has confirmed these truths in your heart and mind, the Scriptures give us clear direction of how to make this plea for salvation to our God. 

Is. 55:6-7  “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;  (7)  let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Rom.10: 9-11 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  (10)  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.  (11)  For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

If God has placed this desire in your heart then cry out to God in prayer, repenting and confessing your sin, seeking His forgiveness and mercy through Jesus Christ His Son. It may well be you have been a “church member for years or that you were led in a prayer at some point but there has never really been any change in your heart. You may have had some religious pressure to be a more moral person. You may even be “religious”, attending church and even reading the Bible. However, all these trappings of religious morality still have left you empty and void of real heart-change. You may even still be involved with a particular sin or sins with no willingness or desire to really give them up. Then you need a real heart change by God. There is but one way, repent of your sins and trust fully in the work of Jesus at the cross for your sins.

1John 1:9. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Rom 5:1,9 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

Joh 6:37  All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

Mark 1:15“The Kingdom of God is at hand, repent ye and believe the gospel” ~Jesus Christ

This is the only true hope for the Rebel !

Now if you have sought God’s forgiveness, mercy and grace, the words of Jesus remind us that those who are in his family not only hear His words but DO THEM. Luke 8:21 And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brothers are those which hear the word of God, and do it.

The evidence of our salvation in Christ is a life that is lived seeking to follow Jesus. You are not saved by following Christ but because you are saved you WILL follow Him.  1John 1:6-7 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Come out of the darkness of your sin and live in the light of Jesus by submitting to His commands in His Word, the Bible. Read your Bible daily and pray to God for the power to live it out. Follow Christ in obedience in believer’s Baptism and becoming a part of a Gospel-centered church. Continually seek God through His Word and prayer and being around other believers. Open your mouth and tell others of this same gospel message that God used to save you. Matt. 28:19-20, Acts 1:8. Daily remind yourself of the gospel and that you stand in it and live for Christ. Remember if Jesus is our Savior He is our Lord and we will be willing to forsake all and follow Him. When Christ saves us from our sins we will follow no other. Christ will have no rivals. NO KING BUT CHRIST!

SOLA SCRIPTURA,
Pastor Alan Davis
Woodland Baptist Church
July 14, 2013

Jesus and Marriage

by Alan Davis

  

Derek Flood, writing for the Huffington Post on Monday March 25th, made several erroneous claims and denials concerning scripture and what Jesus had to say about homosexuality. Though I believe Mr. Flood is sincere about his Christianity and about what he wrote, he is none the less wrong and off base. Mr. Flood takes the position that Jesus said nothing about homosexuality and alludes  Jesus had nothing to say about marriage or sexual relations. Though well intentioned with the misguided idea that he is being compassionate by siding with those involved in the homosexual lifestyle he is none the less just plain wrong. His plea for compassion on those in this lifestyle is certainly a valid plea and should be heeded by all Christians. If he had stopped there he would have done his Scriptural creditability a great service. He however went on to say Jesus had nothing to say concerning sexuality, dismissed on one hand a command of Jesus and accepted the compassion of Jesus out of the very same verse. It was as if Mr. Flood was willing to accept part of a conversation from Jesus and at the same time deny the very next words of Jesus. This is poor exegesis and it is misapplying Scripture, which is dangerous to all.

Mr. Flood, in his article at the Monday’s Huffington Post, plainly denied that Jesus had anything to say concerning sex or marriage, that Jesus had nothing to say about homosexuality. That could only be said if one wants to ignore a lot of Scripture and deny that Scripture is the Word of God. The Scriptures themselves declare that every Word of the Bible is spoken by God including the parts condemning the act of homosexuality and any other sexual sin.  As Jesus is God in the flesh and the Scriptures are God’s very words then Jesus spoke the whole Bible not only what is in the “red” in the gospels. In order for anyone to make the claim that Jesus had nothing to say about sexual sin and homosexuality one must do one of two things :

1.      DENY that Scripture is the Word of God. This leaves the denier in an untenable position now. For what would it matter to them what Jesus said if they do not believe in the inspiration of all Scripture. What gives them the authority to proclaim what Jesus did or didn’t say if they no longer believe the inerrancy of Scripture? To purport that Jesus had nothing to say about homosexuality and deny the inerrancy and authority of Scripture is to weaken at best and to nullify at worst their claim for what they say Jesus did say. For where did they find out what Jesus had to say? It would be the Scriptures, the very Scriptures they now deny. So this argument is an untenable argument just on face value alone. It may appear at first glance the person using this argument has a bases but it takes only a thoughtful minute to see through the fallacy of such an argument to uphold a sinful lifestyle of any sort.

2.      If they do not deny the inerrancy of Scripture then they must now LIE to themselves and others on what Scripture does proclaim concerning sex and marriage. For Jesus as the Author of all divine truth had plenty to say about sexuality. He gave approval to marriage between only one man and one woman. He condemned any sex in any other situation. This would include a homosexual relationship or a heterosexual relationship outside of the terms HE gave for Biblical marriage, one man and one woman, period. So now those who proclaim Jesus had nothing to say are in all actuality lying to themselves and others. Their argument falls apart at this point with just a curious study of the Scriptures concerning sexuality and marriage.

 So we see that for one to use Jesus to artificially prop up their tolerance or acceptance for the homosexual lifestyle or any other sinful lifestyle either is an outright denial of Scripture as God’s Word or a full misrepresentation of God’s Word on purpose. Mr. Flood used the story of Jesus dealing with the woman caught in adultery. When she was brought to Jesus and the lawyers demanded justice Jesus extended mercy. We should do the same, but unlike Mr. Flood we cannot dismiss the rest of the verse as Jesus dealt out mercy and grace to the woman he also demanded a leaving of the sin. If we are truly compassionate to those in a sinful lifestyle we will give them the whole gospel and not leave them in their sin to realize in the end that Jesus said “repent or perish”.

SOLA SCRIPTURA,
Pastor Alan Davis
Woodland Baptist Church
3/27/2013

Building a True Church

The true church of Jesus Christ is the centerpiece of God’s purposes. Scripture tells us that, Eph 5:25  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for itand in Acts 20:28 we are told that Christ shed His blood for the church. The church is also known in Scripture as the bride of Christ. There is no doubt when reading of the church in the New Testament that God places a great emphasis on how important the church is to Him.  The Spirit of God finishes up verse 25 from Eph. above with, Eph 5:26-27  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,  (27)  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. In more than one place in the New Testament, the church is alluded to as the Bride of Christ. It is obvious that the church is of great importance to Christ.

If the church is that important to Christ then the church should be of great importance to the individual believer. To claim the name of Christ and to say I am a follower of Christ is to say that I care about what Christ cares about. A professing Christian who says they are a follower of Christ but doesn’t care for the church leaves their professed faith open to great speculation. To claim to be a Christian and to not care about the only institution that the Lord Jesus Christ instituted and calls His bride would be a spurious faith at best. I sometimes come across professing believers that tell me or insinuate to me that they love Jesus but don’t care too much for the church. Well that would be like telling me you love me but don’t care for my wife. It would be a proverbial “slap in the face”.  Most would stand back appalled at someone else slighting the Lord Jesus. Since Jesus gave us the church and likens it to the “one flesh” binds of marriage it is clear that if we slight the church we are slighting the Savior. To say you love Jesus but don’t care for the church is to say you don’t care for part of Jesus.

The church is a serious matter to Jesus and to believers. The church is not a portion of our Christian faith we can take or leave at will. It is clear from Scripture that the church has authority over believers, it is the place where our spiritual gifts should be exercised under the authority of the God-ordained officers, Pastors (or elders) and Deacons.  It is the people we, as believers, should be accountable to so as to live a godly life. It is the tool and instrument God has chosen to preach the gospel in the local community, to care for the widows and orphans, to identify and train godly leaders, to disciple believers and to lead new believers to commit to Baptism and meaningful church membership. It is the church that God uses as His tool to proclaim to the nations His glory through the gospel. So the church is a very serious matter to God, and should be to us who have been redeemed by God.

In the next few weeks I am going to talk here about the importance of the church as the Bride of Christ. I will begin in just a few days to talk of building a “True Church”.  Some would say they want a great church. A great church in most people’s eyes is a church that pleases people and entertains and makes people feel comfortable where they are.  Some see a great church as one that meets their felt needs in this temporal world. A “True Church” is one that takes seriously the mandates for the church given by Scripture. It is a church that seeks to glorify God and is more concerned with the members’ holiness than their happiness. It is a church that confronts sin, the sin of its members first and its world second. It is a church that holds its members accountable to live godly, show up for corporate meetings and to be a witness. It is much, much more than just a spiritualized Sunday morning entertainment designed around our personal preferences. Christ desires to have a “True Church”.  We should be about building True Churches not great churches. The church is the Bride of Christ.

Eph 5:26-27  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.

 

SOLA SCRIPTURA,
Pastor Alan Davis
Woodland Baptist Church

2/23/2013

Investors and Spenders

Investors and Spenders

 

Rom 12:1  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Today’s economists tell us that we are living in a time that has one of the lowest rates of personal economic investments since the time of the Great Depression.  For one reason or another people are not investing their money and slowly building a nest egg for bad times or retirements.  Many have to work much longer in their lives than they thought due to the lack of personal investment and the state of our economy.  Those who study such trends tell us that it appears that things will only grow worse.

A common saying in our day is that most American families are just one paycheck away from homelessness.  That may be a bit of hyperbole but it may be close to the truth.  Some of the results in our recent banking troubles in America were a result of many younger families “biting off more than they could chew”, attempting to get the American dream home in a prestigious area, and also banks that were foolish enough to make such loans.  We have some who come out of high school or college and expect to receive high paying jobs and are disillusioned when they realize they must “climb the ladder” and their paychecks may not be as large as their peers who have “paid their dues” with years of service, continued education and hard work.  Then reality hits again when they realize they may have to settle for a 1300 sq ft home in a working class community, or forbid, they must start out in a manufactured home instead of that 3000 sg ft custom home in a prestigious area.  It seems many are coming to the starting line of the adult world and expect to get to bypass having to invest their lives, time and money for the American dream.  Many are unwilling to make the investment and risk of their lives and resources so they try to circumvent the system, riding on someone’s coat tails to get ahead.  Many would have others pay the price for them so they can reap rewards that should take many years of toil and sacrifice.  It seems they have a feeling of entitlement to the things of life with no investment on their part.  We have a generation of spenders instead of investors, and this will never bode well for the generations to come.

I am not an economist but I am a theologian.  The same trend we have seen with the American dream as it pertains to money, careers and possessions is the same trend we see in church life in America.  As a pastor, I see many people come through our church as they “church shop” for the church with just what their flesh and the family’s flesh desires.  They come in with a mental “shopping list” of what they are looking for.  Most of the time it never has too much to do with solid Biblical preaching, teaching, articles of faith of a church,  membership accountability or our strategy to win the lost in our community to Christ.  A few will ask if we have mission opportunities (some lately have joined us because of that, praise the Lord!).   Many who come for these things have stayed, for these are our focus, our vision for a New Testament Church.   Not all are shopping to please their flesh but are truly seeking God’s direction for their families.

However, many come and pass on through.  Not that they were not contacted by different people and groups in the church and made to feel welcome.  Not that they didn’t receive enough information about our church and our gospel vision.  It seems many move on because they come expecting the “Mall Church” where one can get about anything one wants out of a church, whether it is biblical or not.  Many have come to expect the church to cater to them and to never really put much of an investment in building the ministries of the church themselves.  They want “cool youth groups”, not really gospel centered ones, that they will be asked to be leaders in.  They want a spiritual child setting service with the expectation that the Sunday School teacher will do all the spiritual stuff.  Many have defaulted the spiritual development of their children to the “Church Professionals” (whatever that is) to the neglect of their Biblical responsibilities.  They want the church they choose to have a music program second to none already in place.  They want all the kinks worked out of the plans and programs of the church with no effort from them.  They want the best Bible teaching with no responsibility placed on them.  In short they are “spenders and not investors”.  Some are rather bold about their demands for the “Burger King Church, have it your way”.  One particular man said he would consider joining our church if I would back a particular political agenda on our church marquee!  Even though I certainly sided with his view of the political agenda, I detested his view of membership blackmail.  Needless to say the marquee was never used for his agenda and he has moved on.

The “Mall Church” shoppers remind me of the eastern tenderfoots and carpetbaggers during the settlement of the American frontier.  They waited in the comfort of their towns and villages while the real pioneers went out and forged a hard living out of the wilderness; toiling night and day against the elements, working long hours and some days seeing little results; battling the elements and the natives, some losing their lives; suffering in many different ways for years all the while investing their lives into a dream.  Sacrificing themselves and their families on something they saw as much bigger than themselves, a vision for the good of all.  My family was one of those families and coming from that kind of stock, I have little sympathy for the tenderfoots and the carpetbaggers. I’ve got to love them, and I do, but I don’t like the way they act or live, not those long ago and not those today.  They wait for others to build the towns, clear the land, burn the brush, plant the crops, build the schools, form a government, and then they come to spend what others have invested.

Now some may think me too cruel, and that is OK, because those folks will keep people like me in spiritual check.  But the church today is in need of more investors and less spenders.  We are called to “be a living sacrifice” which is our “reasonable service” .  The “Mall Church” shopper would hardly ever consider sacrificing for the good of the church.  This type of church shopper never stops to think how the church got such a good music ministry – it was because people came and practiced when there wasn’t but 10-14 in the choir.  They remained faithful year after year in their work and prayer till they saw the fruits of their labors.  The “Mall Church” shopper never stops to think how the church got such a good system of connection with visitation – it was because there were some dedicated people who came and prayed and visited, even if they happened to be the only ones for long periods of time.  They never stop to consider how the church got such a dedicated group of seniors or youth.  Someone came before them and worked very hard night and day.  They were willing to risk time and effort and money to see the vision of the church come to pass.  In short, the church that has a solid gospel center in all its ministry, has had some people who have sacrificed for years to get it that way.  It will not be perfect, but it will continue to plow in God’s field.  It will need to adjust from time to time to remain gospel centered but that’s Ok, because it will adjust with God’s guidance.  Give me a church with a few of God’s pioneers and it will be worth much more than one with a thousand “carpetbaggers”.  The question is, are you a spender or investor?  Are you willing to be a living sacrifice for the glory of God in the local church or will you keep shopping, looking for that special church that has everything already in place so you never have to sacrifice for the cause of the church?

 

SOLA SCRIPTURA,
Pastor Alan Davis
Woodland Baptist Church
January 21, 2013

A Case for Scriptural Elders

A Case for Scriptural Elders

1Tim 3:1-6 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.  A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 

Tit 1:9-11 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.  For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.

The New Testament speaks much about elders in the body of the church.  The term elder is synonymous with pastor or bishop.  No serious student of God’s Word would argue that point.  It denotes one who has given evidence to the local body of Christ that they meet the qualifications of an elder in 1Tim 3 and Titus 1 and that they have a God given desire to fulfill that role in the structure of the local church.  Paul gave instructions to appoint elders in every church, and an emphasis on a plurality of elders in a church exists in the New Testament.  Some of these elders were elders as a vocation and some were elders who held other vocations but still served alongside the vocational elders the same.  All were called and entrusted with the shepherding of the local “flock” of God.  The office of elder is not a third office of the church but fits correctly under the office of pastor in keeping with our Baptist and Scriptural view of only two Scriptural offices in the local Church: Pastors and Deacons.  In the New Testament the elders of a local assembly seem to pray for and give spiritual guidance to the correct preaching and teaching of God’s Word, gospel vision for the church, hold each other accountable, teach preventive church discipline and enforce loving church discipline of wayward members.  These roles are in much want in most of the churches in America today.

My goal in this short article is not to make a complete case for elders in the local congregation, but to show in one particular case how the elders should have taken their biblical role a little more serious.  I will tackle other issues of eldership in some later articles.  Here I want to point out the need for the correct functioning of the role of elders in a local congregation and the importance of one particular New Testament role they should play in the local Church.

The former pastor of Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids MI, Rob Bell, has distinguished himself as an emerging Christian whose views on Jesus and the Scriptures continually evolve and change as necessary with the relativism of the culture.  Needless to say, if you have heard anything of Bell you understand the mixed up, self-made theology he holds.  He is recently famous for two things: (1) he resigned from his Church to work on a Hollywood talk show and said God led Him to do this, and (2) he authored a book entitled “Love Wins” in which he tears apart the Scriptural hell and the teachings of salvation only in Jesus.  He unfolds a “new” doctrine he holds that basically says all will go to heaven.  Of course this is an unorthodox and anti-scriptural doctrine and is heretical in the fact it is a new wrapping of the heresy of universalism.  Sorry Rob, there is “nothing new under the sun”.

At best Bell is ambiguous when it comes to the strong doctrines of the Christian faith, such as the exclusivity of salvation to only those who put their faith in Christ and the doctrine of hell as delivered to us in the Scriptures.  One of Bells close associates said of Bell, “Rob was forced to choose between his personal Jesus and his perfect Bible, he chose his personal Jesus, and set out to reexamine the store of Christianity he thought he knew”.  The following was said by elder Ed Dobson of Calvary Church, the founding church of Mars Hill, of Rob Bell prior to giving Him help and approval to start Mars Hill.  “Not all of the elders felt like I did – some of them were concerned that he was inexperienced,” Dobson recalled about the start of Bell’s ministry in Grand Rapids. “But I told them, ‘Look, he can communicate. He really doesn’t know the Bible, but, if we can add the Bible to his communication skills, we’ll have a winner.’”

Here is where the rubber hits the road with the elders.  I oppose almost everything Rob Bell actually stands for, though he is never, ever really clear what he actually believes, (if you can get him to directly answer a question then good luck).  I see Rob as, well, the heretic that any lost man would be if he tried to fake Christianity and fake a calling to preach the gospel or a very immature undiscipled believer.  The root Church problem with Bell and any of his kind really lies with the elders of his church AND the elders of the founding Church that endorsed such an immature believer at best and heretic at worst.  After seeing Bells lack of spiritual leadership and hearing his heretical teachings one has to ask the question, were the elders all asleep in the ordination council?  Were they all on vacation when Bell was chosen to start this Church?  And were the elders at Mars Hill really that immature that they didn’t notice their lead elder didn’t believe in the scriptural Jesus or in the Scriptural Hell?  A second grader in Sunday School, that has been raised in a Bible believing Church, would seem to know better than these elders.

This is exactly why a novice should NOT be appointed as an elder (according to scripture).  Rob Bell’s fall into false doctrine proves the elders that were hesitant to appoint and approve an immature believer as an elder were right.  Too bad they didn’t have the holy boldness to stand on their Scriptural convictions.  There would be less Rob Bells in pulpits if we had bolder and more mature elders in our Churches.  God give us bold, mature elders in our Churches.

SOLA SCRIPTURA,
Pastor Alan Davis
Woodland Baptist Church
January 4, 2013

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