Committed To The Scripture

The Reformation happened, at its core, because men and women went back to the Bible. They measured the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church against God’s Word, and consequently rejected the false teaching that Christians need to supplement faith with works in order to even hope for salvation. These brave Reformers risked — and sometimes sacrificed — their lives because they were committed to the Scripture.

What a powerful example for us to follow! All glory goes to God, Who taught them to have faith alone in grace alone through Christ alone depending on Scripture alone. As we celebrate the 502nd anniversary of the Protestant Reformation this month, may our gracious Lord keep us committed to the Scripture.

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I Didn’t Do Anything

How many times have you heard your kids object to discipline by protesting, “I didn’t do anything,” when it’s all too clear that they’ve done something wrong?  How many times have you made the same declaration?

We all want to escape personal responsibility.

Yet when we do something right (or appear to do something right), we do our best to make sure people know about it. In those cases, we’re perfectly happy to claim as much responsibility as we possibly can. Especially when it comes to our salvation.

But the truth humbles us as we see Christ’s complete mastery over our salvation. From beginning to end, He provides the grace. He even gives us the ability to believe in Him! As a result, He receives all the praise and glory. We didn’t do anything!

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Sometimes Jesus Gets Lost In Our Service To Our Church

Flourishes03

Each of us (if we’re being obedient) has at least one avenue of ministry. And we cherish that opportunity to serve both the Lord and His church. During my years as a single woman, I enjoyed a variety of ways to serve, ranging from editing the church newsletter to writing and directing drama productions to teaching children in Sunday School.

My ability to serve is a great deal more limited now, but I well remember the busy life of ministry that dominated my younger years.

I also remember realizing at one point that my heavy involvement in ministry had Continue reading

Flashback Friday: Full Bellies — Starving For Truth

Originally published February 23, 2016:

At The Cross“No one wants to hear about God’s wrath,” the young pastor explained to my friend. Then he added, “We help the poor in our community as a demonstration of His love.”

Look, I have nothing against helping the poor. In fact, if more  churches provided such services, less of us would be forced to rely on government programs. So as you read this essay, please don’t misunderstand me as saying that Christians shouldn’t care for the needs of those less fortunate than themselves. Yet I believe we must keep practical ministry secondary to our primary commission to declare the Gospel.

And whether we like it or not, declaring the Gospel first necessitates telling people that they’re sinners who deserve God’s wrath. I agree with the young pastor that no one enjoys hearing about their sin, nor do they like being confronted with the fact that their sin consigns them to an eternity in hell. And Christians don’t relish the duty of proclaiming that part of the Gospel message, if you want to know the truth.

But, dear sisters in the Lord, we don’t get to pick and choose what aspects of the Gospel we present in our evangelism. As ambassadors of Christ, we bear the responsibility to tell people the Gospel in its entirety, aware that we represent Him rather than ourselves.

18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. ~~2 Corinthians 5:18-21 (ESV)

If we offer a message of reconciliation to God, we must begin by helping people understand that such a reconciliation indeed needs to take place. Most non-Christians and Christians-in-name-only simply don’t believe that God takes their sin seriously enough to send them to hell. They may admit that they’ve done some bad things here and there, but they reassure themselves that the good they’ve done outweighs the bad. Consequently, all our talk about Jesus showing His love by dying in their place strikes them as absurd until we show them that they’ve offended a holy God.

The beauty of God’s love shines through the fact that Jesus willingly shed His blood on the cross, bearing His Father’s fury over the sin that you and I committed. That act, more than anything else, epitomizes His love.

It’s wonderful when churches run soup kitchens and pregnancy resource centers. And praise God for missionaries who dig wells and build orphanages. But when people deliberately repress part of the Gospel in order to attract people to their services, they no longer represent the Lord. Leave humanitarian work to secular agencies unless you do it in a way that offers people the eternal hope of Jesus Christ.

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The Church Will Hurt You: A Biblical Response

 

Faded Church

If you join a local church,  you can pretty much expect that, at some point,  you’ll experience some level of hurt. The offense may be as mild as a friend neglecting to say hello on a Sunday morning or as devastating as leadership taking you out of a ministry you enjoy.  A few of these hurts are intentional and malicious; most result from plain old thoughtlessness or misunderstandings. Occasionally you will experience hurt because a brother or sister has called out your sin.

I write from 48 years of Continue reading

As We Take the Lord’s Supper

I’m preparing my heart for Communion this morning. This memorial, which Christ instituted only hours before His betrayal and arrest, reminds us both of His atoning sacrifice for us and His future return.It also reminds us of our unity with each other.

The church John and I belong to delayed our monthly celebration of the Lord’s Supper a week because of Labor Day weekend. So I spent a little time yesterday contemplating it by listening to the Gettys’ beautiful hymn, Behold the Lamb. Whether or not your church will observe Communion today, the words will sharpen your focus on our precious Savior.

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The Gospel Can’t Be Shared Often Enough

Heavenly CrossNo matter how long, or how deeply, we walk with the Lord, we never outgrow the need to hear that Jesus Christ took our place on that cross, shedding His innocent blood in payment for our sins. As we mature in Him, of course we will pay attention to many other issues that Christians must face, as well we should. But we must keep the Gospel central in our hearts and minds as we glorify the Lord for His grace in saving us.

Some of you might disagree with this assessment.  You might even show me Hebrews 6:1-3.

Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits. (ESV)

Of course, that passage actually refers to Continue reading