This coming Sunday (April 12), we are able to gather together in our Vehicles for Sunday Worship!
This will take place at our regular time (9:30), at Miners Mountain Center Trail-head, just out of Ironton in the Mountain bike Rec area. You will be able to participate in your vehicles. This will also be broadcast over the radio on Skeeter 101.5 fm. Directions: turn North on County RD 30 in Ironton for 1/4 mile. As you leave town, take the first left into the rec area. The road winds for approx 1/2 mile until it takes a right turn. We will be in the farthest parking lot, at the base of Miners Mountain/scenic overlook. https://naturalatlas.com/trailheads/miners-mountain-rally-center-2296562
Ten Ways CORONA-19 Can work for our Good
Brian Najapfour (Reformation 21 Blog)
March 21, 2020
As a Christian, I want to view the coronavirus pandemic through the lens of the Bible, especially Romans 8:28–29:
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
This text teaches that for believers in Christ, all things—without exception—work together for good. In times of great trial, we can often feel as Jacob felt: “All these things are against me” (Gen. 42:36). And yet later, once we look back, we can say with Joseph, “God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:20).
So how can this coronavirus be for our good? Let me suggest ten ways.
It can unite us globally in prayer. And as we pray, let us not underestimate what our prayers can do. Revival begins with prayer.
It can open a door for us to share the gospel with the unbelievers. With this pandemic, Christians have a wonderful opportunity to show Christ’s love to others. As Jesus says, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).
It can wean us from some of our idols in this world, such as sports, since this virus has caused cancellations and postponements of sporting events. Sadly, some Christians would rather watch or attend a sporting event on Sunday than worship God.
It can compel us to put our confidence in God for healing, since there is no known vaccine yet for this virus. Medicines are gifts from God, but sometimes we depend on and appreciate these gifts rather than the Giver.
It can give parents special time to be with their children, since this virus has also caused schools to shut down. Let’s ask help from God that our time with our children will become a blessing rather than a burden. Let’s remember, too, that our children are watching us. Thus, by what we say and do, let’s teach them how to react to a crisis like this in a God-honoring way.
It can serve as an occasion for us to obey our Lord’s command: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10). The pace of modern life is so fast that we hardly find time to pause and meditate on God’s Word. Since this virus has brought normal life to a halt, for most of us we have extra time to commune with God and ponder upon heavenly and eternal things.
It can bring us face to face with the reality of death, as this virus continues to claim lives around the globe. “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Heb. 9:27). Are you ready to die?
It can be a wakeup call to us from God to repent of our sin. In the Bible, pestilence is often a sign of God’s judgment. For instance, in 2 Samuel 24 God punished His covenant people because of David’s sin and God’s punishment came to them in a form of pestilence that claimed 70,000 lives.
It can point us to Christ’s Second Coming. In a sense, we should not be surprised to see more events like this pandemic, as Jesus Himself says regarding the last days, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences” (Luke 21:10–11). Unfortunately, people prepare for the coming of the coronavirus, but give little thought to Christ’s Second Coming.
It is certain that God will use this pandemic as an instrument in His hand to conform us more to the image of His Son Jesus Christ. The coronavirus is not designed to drive us away from God, but to draw us closer to Him. It is in this sense that this virus is ultimately for our spiritual good and for God’s own glory.
Therefore, fellow Christians, “Let not your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1).
Brian G. Najapfour has been a minister of the gospel since 2001 and has served both in the Philippines and in the U.S. He is the author of several books, including A Hearer of God’s Word: Ten Ways to Listen to Sermons Better. He blogs at biblicalspiritualitypress.org.
Peace…for the Troubled heart
The 2003 movie, the Last Samauri, a story of turmoil and conflict, nationally, inter-personally and within the protagoint’s own heart, ends with this final naration, And so the days of the Samurai had ended. Nations, like men, it is sometimes said, have their own destiny. As for the American Captain, no one knows what became of him. Some say that he died of his wounds. Others, that he returned to his own country. But I like to think he may have at last found some small measure of peace, that we all seek, and few of us ever find.
Jesus spoke in John 14:6, I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, No One Comes to the Father, except through me.
This verse in the 14th Chapter of John’s Gospel, is the basis for the Exclusive claims of True Christianity; but more importantly, as a balm to the troubled souls of Christians. In a world of conflict, Jesus has open his exortation in v. 1 with this…Let not your hearts be troubled. Peace is delivered.
To set the context: One of Jesus own disciples, Judas has departed—he, who treasured this world more than Jesus, has finally been exposed, realizing that He has no use for Jesus, he thows off all vener of loyalty to gain his thirty pieces of silver from the religious establishment to hand them Jesus—He loves money and is richer for it.
And Jesus has announced his own departure—He, would go to the Cross of Christ, as Just Sacrifice to Holy God to atone for the sins of His people. He would rise again and return to heaven. He would not longer be bodily present in the same way for his disciples.
All False Religions are a twist of the truth. They address the human quesitons of pain, conflict and suffering and purpose and comfort by delivering false peace thorugh material things, which provide instant gratification.
Christianity is Gradificaiton delayed. We never seen Jesus, in physically, bodily form. Yet He promises to draw near and even has the audactiousness to tell us to not let our hearts be troubled? How?
First, He is the way—Where His Word is held up and obeyed, He is present. Where Christians gather together to Worship him in churhes, He is present.
Second, He is the truth—not a truth..but The Truth…He is the Creator. He is the origin and source of all that is true. All false religions offer solutions based upon redefinition of the Human problem: That Humanity is basically good, and the peace is found in right living and right feeling: Medicines, healthy diets, hand sanitizers, finding your true personality.
The Bible tells us the Truth, Original Sin—we as humans are sinners and condemned from the first sin of our first parents. We are blind, deaf and rebels against God. All Problems arise from conflict within each human being. Our hearts are desperately wicked. There is not peace with God apart from God’s grace. The Bible informs us of this. It also declared the solution: The Gospel: Jesus Christ alone has made Peace with God for us.
Third, He is the life—This addresses all the quesitons of purpose and contentment. The peace with God delivered through the Sacrifice and resurection of Jesus is a permanent Peace. God’s wrath is satisfied. Justice is fulfilled. Jesus offers New Life to any who would belive in Him alone. Life forevermore. The quality of eternal life, which will carry us through death and into heaven, is given through Jesus Christ. The Peace, which all of us strive for, has been found. It is revealed clearly in the Good News. It is a gift of grace today. It is for all who would Repent and believe and worship. It is Jesus Christ. The barrier is taken away. He is peace with God. He draws near to his people.
Finally. It is both exlusive and secure—if you believe this—you are secure forever, In Him. No other path will be invented. Nothing in 2020 will add to this. Believe Him. Believe in Him…and Be at Peace, today, and forevermore.
What Is the Gospel?
Many Christians, churches, and organizations regularly use the word gospel to describe their convictions. Theological controversies have occurred and do occur over the meaning of the gospel and who preaches it faithfully. What does that familiar word gospel mean? The best way to answer that question is to turn to the Bible.
In the Greek New Testament, the noun euangelion (“gospel”) appears just over seventy times. Since, in one sense, the whole New Testament is about the gospel, we might have expected the word to have been used more frequently. Even more surprisingly, its use varies greatly among the authors of the New Testament books. Paul uses the word more than three times as often as all the other authors combined. Most of the other uses are found in Matthew and Mark, with very few, if any, in Luke, John, Peter, and James.
The word gospel most simply means “good news.” The word is not unique to the Christian message, but it was also used in the pagan world to refer to a good announcement. In the New Testament, it refers to the good news of Jesus the Savior. Often, it is used with the assumption that the reader knows what the word means.
As we look more closely at the ways in which gospel is used in the New Testament, several points come through strongly. First, we often find the phrase “the gospel of God.” This phrase stresses the source of the gospel as a gift from God. The gospel is of divine, not human, origin. Second, the character of the gospel is specified in several ways: the gospel is true (Gal. 2:5, 14; Col. 1:5), gracious (Acts 20:24), and glorious (2 Cor. 4:4; 1 Tim. 1:11). Third, we see two responses to the gospel. The primary response is faith (Acts 15:7; Eph. 1:13). But obedience is also a response (1 Peter 4:7; Rom. 1:5; 10:16; 16:26; 2 Thess. 1:8).
(Paul’s use of the idea of the obedience of faith in Romans has an element of irony as he responds to those who have accused him of antinomianism, being against the law.) Fourth, we see several results of the gospel. The gospel, of course, brings salvation (Rom. 1:16; Eph. 1:13). It also brings the kingdom (Matt. 4:23; 9:35, 24:14). It evokes hope in the people of God (Col. 1:23). The gospel is also a motivation to sanctification (Mark 8:35; 10:29; 2 Cor. 9:13; Eph. 6:15; Phil. 1:27).
All of these ways in which the word gospel is used point to its content, but there are also passages in the New Testament that are explicit as to its content. In examining these texts, we discover that sometimes the word gospel refers broadly to all aspects of the salvation and new life that Jesus gives His people, and sometimes it is used narrowly to refer to what Jesus does for us outside of us. In other words, sometimes the term gospel refers broadly to Jesus’ work of justification and sanctification for and in His people, and sometimes it refers narrowly to Jesus’ work of justification. Another way of putting this distinction is that sometimes the word gospel refers broadly to all the New Testament fulfillment of what was promised in the Old Testament, and sometimes the term gospel is used narrowly of Jesus’ doing in contrast to our doing of the Law.
An example of the broader sense of the word gospel can be seen in Mark 1:1, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” This use of the word gospel seems to refer to everything that Mark tells us about the teaching and work of Jesus. We see another broad use in Revelation 14:6–7:
Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”
Here the gospel is the call to repent and worship God.
More often, the term gospel is used narrowly and its content is specified. We see this in 1 Corinthians 15:1–4:
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you — unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.
Here, the gospel is the message of the saving death and resurrection of Jesus.
In another place, Paul writes of “the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted,” and he specifies what that gospel is:
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. (1 Tim. 1:11, 15–16)
Here, the gospel is the saving work of Christ for sinners.
Paul writes similarly in 2 Timothy:
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel… . Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel. (2 Tim. 1:8–10; 2:8)
This narrow use of the word gospel was very common in the writings of the sixteenth-century Reformers. We can see this in the thought of John Calvin:
The word of faith is put by metonymy [using the name of one concept for another concept to which it is related] for the word of promise, i.e. for the Gospel itself, since it is related to faith. The contrast between law and Gospel is to be understood, and from this distinction we deduce that, just as the law demands work, the Gospel requires only that men should bring faith in order to receive the grace of God.
It is also clear in Zacharias Ursinus. Near the beginning of his commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, Ursinus divides all of doctrine into law and gospel:
The doctrine of the church consists of two parts: the Law, and the Gospel; in which we have comprehended the sum and substance of the sacred Scriptures. The law is called the Decalogue, and the gospel is the doctrine concerning Christ the mediator, and the free remission of sins, through faith.
Such reflections on the gospel have remained common in Reformed theology, as we see from this long, fascinating quotation from the great Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck:
But the word of God, both as law and gospel, is the revelation of the will of God, the promulgation of the covenant of works and the covenant of grace… . Although in a broad sense the terms “law” and “gospel” can indeed be used to denote the old and the new dispensation of the covenant of grace, in their actual significance they definitely describe two essentially different revelations of divine will [Bavinck here cites many New Testament proof texts]… . In these texts law and gospel are contrasted as demand and gift, as command and promise, as sin and grace, as sickness and healing, as death and life … . The law proceeds from God’s holiness, the gospel from God’s grace; the law is known from nature, the gospel only from special revelation; the law demands perfect righteousness, but the gospel grants it; the law leads people to eternal life by works, and the gospel produces good works from the riches of the eternal life granted in faith; the law presently condemns people, and the gospel acquits them; the law addresses itself to all people, and the gospel only to those who live within its hearing.
How clear, distinct, biblical, and precious is this presentation of the gospel.
The church needs to preach the gospel in both its broad and narrow senses. The Greek word for gospel has given the English-speaking world the word evangelism. True evangelism, according to the Great Commission given by Jesus in Matthew 28:18–20, is a matter of making disciples: first, in the narrow sense of calling men and women to believe in Jesus and, second, in the broad sense of teaching them to observe all things that Jesus has taught His people. For the sake of the gospel, let’s all promote true evangelism.
Worship and What’s Wrong with the World
by Pastor Eric
Who is God? He is Creator. Before Creation was, there was a Creator. This means that God is Set-apart from Creation. He is distinct in all He is. In His essence He is perfect and all loving, all powerful and all just all the time. Above which there is none greater, before which, there was no source.
Why is this important? Christianity, the Worship of One True God, is What Dr. Peter Jones calls Two-ist. Meaning that There is a distinction between Creator, who is set-apart and independent, and Creation(us,) who are created, limited and totally dependent upon God.
What is wrong with world? We are. Human beings, God’s very good creation, rebelled. Refusing to Humbly acknowledge Holy God and His Holy Created order, we deceive ourselves into thinking that nothing is Transcendent, that All truth is in what we prefer or feel.
Romans 1:25 declares that, being and Spirital people by nature, our problem is not that we worship , but that we choose to worship created things which should not be worshipped.
The Delusion that we are the Creator and that God is not, this is called One-ism..that we can become God. That we can find solution from creation. This is self-worship, that me and God are the same.
How has this Worked? Not well, to vastly understate the reality. Dennis Prager says that Secularism (or Paganism) begins with the breaking down of every Holy distinction which is given by God in Creation (Genesis 1-2) The distinctions are between God/Man, Man/Amimal, Male/Femal, Good/Evil,and in trying to finding meaning, worship and healing in ourselves, we violate these holy distinctions.
Abortion: the offering up of Babies at the alter of personal convenience, Feminism and Efffimate/emmasculated men: the offering up of our roles pf male and female for the perceived religion of Freedom and autonomy. Think of the controversies raging around ideas such as transgenderism, sodomy, adultery and lesbianism—beliving that we can create our own meaning and rebel against God’s created order in the bodies which we possess.
This is all One-ist–thinking: that we are creators and can make our own meaning. That there is nothing transcendently Holy. If it feels or or makes me feel authentic, then it must be good, so goes our rationalization.
Is God angry? Oh yes he is! God reigns and He is unchanging, and Death proves we cannot excape our Creator; and will face final judgment for our deeds. The consequences of His Eternal judment are displayed in preview in the conflict, depair, suicide, lonliness present and increasing in our current culture. Even the breakdown of family is judgment which comes from rebelliing against any standards set by God.
Enter Christianity. Christianity is Two-ist. It is not about feelign better, or having your best Life now. It is a Holy worship of New Birth, true life. It is Returning to Holy Creator God by Faith and Repentance.
Why? God did not fail. Our sin has not incapacitated him. the Creator was not affected nor suprised by our rebellion. He has made a solution. John 3:16 says that for God so loved the world that He gave his only son, that whosoever believs in HIm shlal not perish but have Eternal Life.
How? Holy God has made a Way. In Him is Hope. For He came into the world as a Perfect Son, the 2nd Member of the Trinity–He lived a perfect life, died a designed Atoning death, satisfying the wrath and just punishment we have earned. He chose to love his creation, even rebellious self-worshippers. He was buried for our sins and rise again.
This is the Good News. Believe in HIm. Repent of your wicked one-ist worship, of destroying His world by acting like you were Him. Read His Word and let it re-order your whole of Worship. Join a faithful church which preaches and proclaims the Good News of His Son from the Bible. He is alive today–He is willing to forgiven and receive repentant sinners. Worship Him.
B.H. Carroll and Robust Confessionalism
Should a church use a confession of faith? If so, how robust should that confession be? While few modern Baptists may be willing to identify with the Campbellite “no creed but Christ, no book but the Bible” approach to church life, considerably more seem to be skeptical of or even decidedly against the use of a robust confession of faith by local churches. Yet an extensive confession can serve a church well especially in seasons of doctrinal minimalism and confusion such as our own.
B.H. Carroll, the founder and first President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, understood this well and minced no words in his insistence on robust confessionalism. He rightly noted the inextricable connection between doctrine and devotion, faith and life. He writes,
All the modern hue and cry against dogma is really against morals. The more we reduce the number of the creed articles, the more we undermine practical religion.
Since the Bible is not minimalistic in its revelation of what we are to believe and how we are to live, neither should our confessions be. Commenting on Ephesians 4:1, Carroll insists that the practical admonitions of Paul necessarily are built on his doctrinal instructions.
Neither Christ nor the apostles predicate morals on any other than a doctrinal foundation. If we are to walk worthily of our calling, we must first know the doctrine of the calling, that is, unto what we were called. And all our “lowliness and meekness and longsuffering and forbearance toward each other, and diligent keeping of the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” are dependent on the antecedent doctrines set forth, otherwise there is no force in Paul’s “therefore.” And what one of the doctrines in the three preceding chapters or in this can we omit from our creed without omitting something profitable in our life? A Christian’s creed should enlarge, and not diminish, up to the last utterance of revelation in order that each article might be transmitted into experience.
Carroll’s conviction that true Christianity is doctrinal led him to argue that increased theological clarity is inherent in sanctification. It also made him suspicious of those who suggest that a church’s confession of faith should be briefer rather than fuller.
A church with a little creed is a church with a little life. The more divine doctrines a church can agree on, the greater its power, and the wider its usefulness. The fewer its articles of faith, the fewer its bonds of union and compactness.
The modern cry: “Less creed and more liberty,” is a, degeneration from the vertebrate to the jellyfish, and means less unity and less morality, and it means more heresy. Definitive truth does not create heresy – it only exposes and corrects. Shut off the creed and the Christian world would fill up with heresy unsuspected and uncorrected, but none the less deadly.
A robust, sound confession of faith is in no danger of taking the place of Scripture or being elevated to the same authority as Scripture. The Second London Baptist Confession (SLC), for example, begins by declaring that “The Holy Scriptures are the only sufficient, certain, and infallible standard of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience.”
Neither does a church’s use of a robust confession require that a person must fully subscribe to it before he or she is eligible for membership. Again, as the SLC states in 26.2,
All people throughout the world who profess the faith of the gospel and obedience to God people Christ in keeping with the gospel are and may be called visible saints, as long as they do not destroy their own profession by any foundational errors or unholy living. All local congregations ought to be made up of these.
While leaders and teachers in the church should be expected to affirm the confession more fully, such subscription is not necessary for the membership since every healthy church will be comprised of young, weak and not-yet-carefully-instructed believers.
So if your church is thinking of revising or adopting a confession of faith, don’t settle for a minimal statement on the grounds that doing so will be better for the congregation. Consider again the wisdom of B.H. Carroll whose views reflect a spiritually healthier season of Baptist life than we currently enjoy:
Very solemnly I would warn the reader against any teaching that decries doctrines, or which would reduce the creed of the church into two or three articles.
We are entitled to no liberty in these matters. It is a positive and very hurtful sin to magnify liberty at the expense of doctrine. A creed is what we believe. A confession of faith is a declaration of what we believe. The church must both believe and declare. The longest creed of history is more valuable and less hurtful than the shortest. While “the faith” has many articles, there is unity in them. They articulate. And it is intensely important to bring all members of the church into unity touching all the faith.