Mar 19, 2018

The Word-Less Church
Many American churches are in a mess. Theologically they are indifferent, confused, or dangerously wrong. Liturgically they are the captives of superficial fads. Morally they live lives indistinguishable from the world. They often have a lot of people, money, and activities. But are they really churches, or have they degenerated into peculiar clubs?
What has gone wrong? At the heart of the mess is a simple phenomenon: the churches seem to have lost a love for and confidence in the Word of God. They still carry Bibles and declare the authority of the Scriptures. They still have sermons based on Bible verses and still have Bible study classes. But not much of the Bible is actually read in their services. Their sermons and studies usually do not examine the Bible to see what it thinks is important for the people of God. Increasingly they treat the Bible as tidbits of poetic inspiration, of pop psychology, and of self-help advice. Congregations where the Bible is ignored or abused are in the gravest peril. Churches that depart from the Word will soon find that God has departed from them.
What solution does the Bible teach for this sad situation? The short but profound answer is given by Paul in Colossians 3:16: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” We need the Word to dwell in us richly so that we will know the truths that God thinks are most important and so that we will know His purposes and priorities. We need to be concerned less about “felt-needs” and more about the real needs of lost sinners as taught in the Bible.
Paul not only calls us here to have the Word dwell in us richly, but shows us what that rich experience of the Word looks like. He shows us that in three points. (Paul was a preacher, after all.)
First, he calls us to be educated by the Word, which will lead us on to ever-richer wisdom by “teaching and admonishing one another.” Paul is reminding us that the Word must be taught and applied to us as a part of it dwelling richly in us. The church must encourage and facilitate such teaching whether in preaching, Bible studies, reading, or conversations. We must be growing in the Word.
It is not just information, however, that we are to be gathering from the Word. We must be growing in a knowledge of the will of God for us: “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col. 1:9). Knowing the will of God will make us wise and in that wisdom we will be renewed in the image of our Creator, an image so damaged by sin: “Put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (3:10).
This wisdom will also reorder our priorities and purposes, from that which is worldly to that which is heavenly: “The hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of truth, the gospel” (1:5). When that Word dwells in us richly we can be confident that we know the full will of God: “I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known” (1:25). From the Bible we know all that we need for salvation and godliness.
Second, Paul calls us to expressing the Word from ever-renewed hearts in our “singing.” Interestingly, Paul connects the Word dwelling in us richly with singing. He reminds us that singing is an invaluable means of placing the truth of God deep in our minds and hearts. I have known of elderly Christians far gone with Alzheimer’s disease who can still sing songs of praise to God. Singing also helps connect truth to our emotions. It helps us experience the encouragement and assurance of our faith: “That their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (2:2–3).
The importance of singing, of course, makes the content of our songs vital. If we sing shallow, repetitive songs, we will not be hiding much of the Word in our hearts. But if we sing the Word itself in its fullness and richness, we will be making ourselves rich indeed. We need to remember that God has given us a book of songs, the Psalter, to help us in our singing.
Third, Paul calls us to remember the effect of the Word to make us a people with ever-ready “thanksgiving.” Three times in Colossians 3:15–17 Paul calls us to thankfulness. When the “word of Christ” dwells in us richly, we will be led on to lives of gratitude. As we learn and contemplate all that God has done for us in creation, providence, and redemption, we will be filled with thanksgiving. As we recall His promises of forgiveness, renewal, preservation, and glory, we will live as a truly thankful people.
We need the word of Christ to dwell in us richly today more than ever. Then churches may escape being a mess and become the radiant body of Christ as God intended.
~Robert W. Godfrey, Tabletalk Magazine, March 19, 2018~

Mar 11, 2018

Beware of light thoughts of sin. At the time of conversion, the conscience is so tender, that we are afraid of the slightest sin. Young converts have a holy timidity, a godly fear lest they should offend against God. But alas! very soon the fine bloom upon these first ripe fruits is removed by the rough handling of the surrounding world: the sensitive plant of young piety turns into a willow in after life, too pliant, too easily yielding.

It is sadly true, that even a Christian may grow by degrees so callous, that the sin which once startled him does not alarm him in the least. By degrees men get familiar with sin. The ear in which the cannon has been booming will not notice slight sounds. At first a little sin startles us; but soon we say, "Is it not a little one?" Then there comes another, larger, and then another, until by degrees we begin to regard sin as but a little ill; and then follows an unholy presumption: "We have not fallen into open sin. True, we tripped a little, but we stood upright in the main.  We may have uttered one unholy word, but as for the most of our conversation, it has been consistent."

So we palliate sin; we throw a cloak over it; we call it by dainty names. Christian, beware how thou thinkest lightly of sin. Take heed lest thou fall by little and little. Sin, a little thing? Is it not a poison? Who knows its deadliness? Sin, a little thing? Do not the little foxes spoil the grapes? Doth not the tiny coral insect build a rock which wrecks a navy? Do not little strokes fell lofty oaks? Will not continual droppings wear away stones? Sin, a little thing? It girded the Redeemer's head with thorns, and pierced his heart! It made him suffer anguish, bitterness, and woe. Could you weigh the least sin in the scales of eternity, you would fly from it as from a serpent, and abhor the least appearance of evil. Look upon all sin as that which crucified the Saviour, and you will see it to be "exceeding sinful."

Charles Spurgeon

Feb 21, 2018

We're Back!

Welcome back to Grace Bible Church Blog friends. After our account was hacked by someone, and an interlude of about three years, I'm pleased to say we're back in business.

Prayerfully we'll be putting out information that will bless and encourage those who take the time to read our posts.

One of the first things we want to highlight is our need for your unused eyeglasses. Our missionaries to Thailand, Dan and Laurie Fuller, will be visiting and speaking at our church on April 29 and they have a need for our unused eyeglasses to take back to Thailand with them.

Any size, shape or prescription is acceptable, as they will be taken back to people who have no optometrist and no other means to correct their vision.

Please, won't you donate your unused eyeglasses? There's a basket on the foyer table for just this purpose. If you have any questions, contact Joel Ashby.  Thanks so very much for helping!

Ladies of Grace Dinner
Thursday, Feb. 22 at 6:30 pm
PT Christoff's Restaurant
22900 Allen Road, Woodhaven (Corner of West & Allen)
~All Ladies Invited~

Flock Bible Study
Sunday, Feb. 25 at 5:00 pm
Tom Gabbert, Leader

Coming Events

Sunday, March 4
Guest Speaker: Rev. Kevin Godin

Sunday, March 11 - Daylight Savings Time
Set clocks forward one hour

Sunday, April 1
Easter Sunday and Communion Sunday

Jan 6, 2015

The Podcast Pastor

"Many Christians find biblical and spiritual nourishment from faithful podcast preachers. This is a good thing. It gives people the opportunity to build God's Word into their lives during the week as they jog or drive or clean or just sit and listen. But with this benefit comes the question, How should we encourage these same Christians, who are benefitting form podcast preaching, to orient themselves toward their pastor(s) in the local church?
Let it be clear that we ought to deeply appreciate our local pastors, under whose shepherding and preaching we sit week in and week out. They are indispensable, as a gift from God, to His church. God does not say in Scripture that He has given podcasts to the church, but pastors and teachers. Ephesians 4:11-12: "He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry."
He gave these pastors responsibility for particular flocks. That is what it says in 1 Peter 5:2-3: "Shepherd the flock of God that is among you" - a pastor is not responsible for a flock across the world or down the street - "exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you, not for shameful gain, but eagerly, not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock." Pastors will only be examples as they live and minister among a particular people. This connectedness between pastor and people is a calling for the pastor and a gift to the flock.
This is the picture that God has ordained: that flocks exist, and shepherds exist, and that the shepherds have accountability for a particular flock; and that the flock should submit joyfully to its particular shepherd. This is a structure that no podcasting pastor can replace.
These local-church shepherds, then, are given an astonishing responsibility in Acts 20:28: "pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock" - that is, all their flock - "in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with his own blood." This is a massive calling - and an enormous burden. Take heed to all the flock, he says. This is your flock. You are their shepherd. Watch over them, care for them, as no more podcaster can.
And the counterpoint is that all those sheep should know that this is the local pastor's responsibility, and they should submit to that gladly. They should want it. They should feel wonderfully blessed by being in a church where this is believed. And so God tells us, "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls" (Heb. 13:17). And He says we should be eager "to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work" (1 Thess. 5:12-13).
In other words, God has designed normal Christianity - vibrant, healthy, durable, culture-shaping, mission-advancing, justice-elevating, Christ-exalting Christianity - to be a web of relationships, in local churches, led by faithful shepherds, who live as examples and care for the souls of their particular sheep. No online preacher can take the place on the ground of these shepherds.
Let me add two further considerations:
     First, what we should desire from our pastor in his preaching is not mainly rhetorical or oratorical skill, but faithful explanation of God's Word and application to our lives, especially the life we are living together right here in this church and city, making an impact on our specific community. So I say to every church member, value your pastor as the one who opens the Scriptures for you in your situation, in your community, in your web of relationships week in and week out. Support him in this.
     Second, we need to acknowledge the huge importance of corporate worship, as a whole, in the life of a believer. Gathering with God's people every week - gathering, not just putting on your headphones and listening to a worship song - to exalt Jesus together, and hear each other say great things about the One whom we love and cherish, is the way God means for us to thrive in relation to him. I have found this weekly rhythm of corporate communion with God essential to my faith over the last fifty years.
Preaching is essential to that corporate experience. Preaching is not after worship. It is worship. It is the pastor exulting over the truth of God's Word. It is expository exultation. In other words, preaching is not an isolated moment of instruction, as if the service just switched from music to class. No, the service is worship from start to finish. We are going vertical from beginning to end, and we are connecting with God through prayers and communion and singing and giving and in the sermon. We are leaning on the pastor to draw us into his explanation and exultation over the Word of God as part of corporate worship. Podcasters cannot do this. If people only hear preaching outside the context of corporate worship, they are neglecting part of its life and power.
I love podcasting. I think it has a place in the growth and learning of contemporary Christians. But nothing can replace the church gathered and the community of believers under the leadership and care of shepherds who minister God's Word to them and care for their souls."
Dr. John Piper is chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary in Minneapolis and former pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church. He is author more than fifty books, including A Godward Heart.

Article taken from Tabletalk, September, 2014

Jan 3, 2015

Martin Luther

Lord Jesus,
You are my righteousness,
I am your sin.
You took on you what was mine;
yet set on me what was yours.
You became what you were not,
that I might become what I was not.
- Martin Luther