Passing On the Faith

I enjoy track and field. It’s one of my favorite things to watch when the Olympics roll around every four years. (Sidenote: I really missed the Olympics last year.)

Of course, in the world of track and field, the fan-favorite races are the sprints, especially the relays. I have never been much of a sprinter, but I have always wanted to run in the relays. As a distance guy, I never got the chance. There’s just something about the quick starts, the teamwork, and the passing of the baton that capture my attention – and still create a sense of envy.

There was however one time I was able to run a relay. I cannot remember why I was recruited, but I do remember the dread of thinking, “What if I botch the exchange? What if I drop the baton?” I didn’t, but we didn’t win, and I was never on a relay again.

Church. We have a baton to pass. The ancient baton of faith. It has it’s origin woven into creation and has been passed faithfully throughout history and it is in our hands today. It is “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” God has faithfully preserved it among His people, and we are holding it now.

What are you going to do with it, Christian? Who are you going to pass it to? How are you going to pass it on? What shape are you going to pass it in?

Too many Christians take this baton and hide it. Like the servant that buried his talent, some bury their faith out of fear. Keep it close, after all, it’s a personal matter, what does it matter to other people? This fearful and timid faith comes dangerously close to surrendering faith into apostasy. Our faith, while personal, is not private. We are not saved merely for our own eternal preservation but as a display of His glory and as a part of His mission.

We must proclaim His gospel to all those around us, especially to those in the upcoming generations. Too many Christians are not thinking of passing this baton of faith. We may not hide it, but neither is it being extended to others. Instead of offering it to those around us, we enshrine it. We place it on a pedestal out of reach and adorn it with decorations that make the baton hard to see.

We want others to see Jesus in us, but they cannot distinguish between Jesus and all the stuff we’ve attached to him. We hope our children and grandchildren will walk after us in the faith, but we are unwilling to go into the future with them. We demand that they navigate the terrain of the future with the tools of the past. We cannot pass the baton to their hands if we continue to focus on our grip. A faith that is self-focused, will not be grasped by others.

If our faith is going to be passed on:

(1) We must model both faith and faithfulness. We must recognize what the gospel is and what we have attached to it, and then must pass on that which is essential as we speak of and act on the passions, priorities, and purposes of the Kingdom.

(2) We must adopt a heritage of faith. The church walks in a legacy of faithfulness thousands of years old. Let’s hear those stories. History is memory. We must never forget for where we have come. There is a legacy behind us that guides us to the plans God has in front of us. Even every changing times, in the midst of modern challenges, it is increasingly important to hold onto the constants of the faith, to the continuity of His Word.

(3) We must connect them to a people. Faith is a team sport. Faith, by God’s design, is meant to be lived out in community. We cannot experience the fullness of faith in Christ apart from the fellowship of His Bride, the church.

(4) We must pass the baton to a person. We cannot toss this baton of faith into a generic “generation.” Faith does not live on in instituions but in the hearts of people. We must share it with individuals, for if it is to be sent into the future, it will be individual believers who show it and share it with others. The gospel, this faith, only goes where people take it. So, we must invest in people, people we love and trust and encourage and teach and help.

(5) We must pray for those who are coming up behind us. There is so much more that can and should be said, but ultimately, this task is too big for us; we must trust God. And trusting God, we pray diligently and desperately for those we are sharing the gospel with. We want them to flourish in the faith as they walk with God, pursue His purposes, and fulfill His plans. In this, they will know life, eternal and abundant, and in the knowing they will be able to pass it on to others.

Passing on the faith is a personal investment that requires intentional action, sacrificial service, and earnest prayer. Let’s pray that we can build up one another, and especially future generations, unto multi-generational faithfulness.

If there is anything else I do to help you along this journey, please reach out by leaving a comment or sending an email. If you want to watch this message in it’s entirety, you can find it with past messages on our website:

A Gospel Community is Theological

But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers.

Acts 15:1–3 (ESV)

The principle is simple really: what we love, we seek to know; what we know, we know how to love.

Unfortunately, the idea of “theology” intimidates many, but theology is merely the study of God. Or, more simply put, the pursuit of knowing God.

Every believer wants to know God. Even many unbelievers have an interest in God. Whenever we seek answers to questions about God — who He is, how He works, what He requires, etc. — we are doing theology.

Church, we must do more theology. We must love theology because we love God, and we want to know those we love.

As we look at the controversy of Acts, chapter 15, we see the importance and nature of theology.

(1) We see that theology is an important discipline.

This is what we have already said. If we value God and love Him and want to know Him, please Him, serve Him, and share Him with others, then we must engage in theology.

When we put God at the center of theology (which, oddly enough, is not a universal approach), we also discover that our interest and focus in the Bible changes. We discover that the Bible is not merely (or even primarily) a handbook for doing life, but the roadmap for knowing God. We must understand the Bible as revelation before we can apply its instruction.

(2) Theology is a joyful discipline.

If our theology does not produce doxology, then we are doing it wrong!

This element of theology only appears in passing as we look at the text, but it is a life-giving aspect of theology that is too often overlooked. They were sharing with one another testimony of what God was doing and how God was working, and it “brought great joy to all the brothers.”

Theology prompts doxology.

(3) Theology is a community discipline.

The early church did not sweep this theological issue aside or brush it off. They did not dismiss it as unimportant or downplay the issue for the sake of a perceived “unity.” They dealt with it, and they dealt with it together. They all sought counsel together, they came and reasoned together. The church is a gospel community, that makes us a theological community.

Theology – if we let it – will produce humility, deepen respect, cultivate community, teach us to listen and consider others. We will learn submission, gain perspective, , connect us to history (the greatest benefit to studying church history is a knowledge of heresy and battles for theological integrity).

(4) Finally, Theology is a biblical discipline.

James, the head of the Jerusalem church, after listening to testimony and argument, evaluates and summarizes the entire issue by looking into the Scriptures.

James models what we must never forget: Scripture is the final authority. All experience, all testimony, every idea and philosophy must be shaped by Scripture. Our experiences, our culture, our favorite authors, even our traditions must yield to Scripture.

When was the last time Scripture overcame an impulse, or clarified an experience, or shaped – or reshaped – an opinion?

We gain stability, avoid error, increase joy, build fellowship, learn humility, and testify to the goodness of God when we spend time and give attention to knowing our God.

What you love you study and what you study holds your attention and captures your imagination. Church, let’s give the Lord our attention and let’s allow His greatness to capture our imagination. Let’s cultivate a love for theology.

Gospel Reinforcement

…they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.

Acts 14:21-22 (ESV)

Oops. He did it again.

Paul is back at it. After being threatened, beaten, stoned, and nearly killed, Paul returns to the cities where he faced opposition and hardship. But his pattern this time around is different. He is not going to the synagogues first to present Jesus, evangelizing Jews and God-fearing Gentiles. This time he reconnects with Christian believers, “strengthening the souls of the disciples.”

Paul knows there is more to building the kingdom than calling for decisions (as important as that is). Paul is seeking to build up the kingdom not merely expand its population. So, having seen individuals in every city come to faith in Jesus, Paul wants to strengthen, encourage, and disciple them so that they can persevere in their faith and then continue the mission of sharing Christ with others.

The Great Commission is not just going and preaching, calling for decisions and witnessing conversion; our mission is to make disciples, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit (evangelism) AND teaching them to obey all that I have commanded (discipleship).

And as believers, our faith is not “complete” when we accept Jesus unto salvation. We are not merely called to a decision about Christ, but to walk with Him our whole lives. This faith journey demands discipleship. All believers must be disciples: being taught in the faith and growing in obedience.

The invitation to know Christ is a call to be reconciled to Him, having been buried with Christ in baptism we are now raised to walk in newness of life. Salvation is having our sins paid for and being provided with eternal life. Being saved is to walk with Jesus, having been reconciled to Him, we are discipled by Him through faith, through His Word, and with His people.

Along with this call to be a disciple, an expression and consequence of being a disciple, means that we are also a disciple-er. While growing and learning as a disciple, we are also teaching and encouraging other disciples.

From Paul’s example we are reminded of these 3 things:

1. We are called to discipleship. Of course, this is all we have already said with one additional clarification.

To know Christ is to walk the path of discipleship.

So, consider:

  • Who is guiding you along this path of discipleship? Who is it that strengthens your soul and encourages you in hardship?
  • Who is walking alongside you, growing with you as you pursue Christ? Do you know what your church is doing to intentionally build disciples? How can you help take advantage of and strengthen those efforts?
  • Who are you sharing your faith with and who are you teaching all that you have learned and are learning? In other words, who are you discipling?

2. We are need encouragement. Obviously, this is part of being a part of the disciple-making process, a process in which we are forever both offering and receiving, learning and teaching.

But, how important is this really?

Of grave importance… ultimate consequence… life-and-death hanging in the eternal balance. It is impossible to over-estimate or under-emphasize the importance of discipleship, training, encouragement, and accountability.

Only those who “endure til the end” will be saved. ( 1 Corinthians 15:1-2; Mark 13:13; Matthew 24:12-13; Colossians 1:21–23; 1 John 2:19)

Only those who persevere in the faith will experience eternal life. And while there is much to be offered here by way of explanation, but for our purposes here we want to focus on one element of this beautiful gospel promise.

Faith, by nature, perseveres.

Translation: Take courage! Pursue Christ with all your heart. Faith makes it to the end!

That means that by faith, you will endure. He who began a good work in you WILL complete it. (Phil. 1:6, emphasis added)

The same God who warns us against falling away is (Jude 20-21) is the same God who “who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 24-25)

The same God who invites us to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” is the same God “who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Phil 2:12-13)

“But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” (2 Thessalonians 3:3)

As His children, we “are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5)

To put it another way: We persevere because God preserves us.

This assurance does not give us license to be lazy in our persevering, rather, it infuses our striving with confidence because we know He is at work within us and He will be faithful.

One last thing. A key tool in God’s preservation toolbox is His people. God provides for us in the community of faith. And trusting God means trusting the means He has ordained.

Paul provides strength, encouragement, and instruction to these new believers by organizing them into local churches and gifts them with godly leaders. Through these leaders and these churches, Paul trusts these new believers to be cared for, instructed, and encouraged.

My prayer for each of you is Paul’s blessing to the Thessalonian church:

“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23)

And if I can be an encouragement to you in your faith, leave a comment or send an email. I look forward to hearing from you.

Watch the whole service or join the sermon at the 37:48 mark.

Good Deeds & Gospel Integrity

 “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”

Acts 14:15-17

Paul did this thing.

…it was a good thing, but it ended up causing a lot of trouble.

In his defense, he had no way of knowing; like many well-intentioned actions, the unintended consequences… well, let’s just say they got out of hand.

Again, to be clear: Paul did not do anything wrong, and I am not suggesting that he should have done anything differently, however, there is a powerful lesson for us, a warning & an encouragement.

There are two parts to gospel living. For all who would faithfully walk in and seek to share the gospel, we must give purposeful attention gospel demonstration and gospel declaration.

1. Gospel demonstration

Jesus calls His people to be salt & light in the midst of a hostile world. The goal is that the world “may see your good deeds and give glory to your Fathers who is in heaven.” (Matt 5:16)

When Jesus was asked to identiify the greatest commandment, He said that the greatest of all the commandments was to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, souil, strength, and mind. But then He offered a second command “that is like” the first: to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Love our neighbor, serve them, get to know them, and meet needs as you are able. This is how gospel people demonstrate God’s goodness and communicate His love.

However, we must be careful. It is possible that we could meet every need in our community and gain a reputation for love but still not prove faithful to our Lord and His mission. Gospel demonstration must find it’s completion in gospel declaration.

2. Gospel declaration

The man “had faith to be made well.” The most important needs require faith because our most important needs are spiritual. Every other need we have is temporary, and every kind of provision is fading, but our soul’s need for forgiveness and salvation is eternal.

We cannot be content with simply meeting physical and temporary needs. Gospel people declare God’s grace in the gospel.

Good works are good. But good works are limited. More than that, good works can be misunderstood.

People like when good is done to them and for them. In Paul’s case, doing good to a lame man caused him and Barnabus to look like gods. The people of Lystra were even prepared to worship them!

We can gain quite a following, draw a crowd, and earn some money… we can win favor and build a reputation by doing good. And while there is nothing wrong with doing good, we must resist to urge to think too much of earning favor or sustaining a particular reputation.

Doing good might earn us the favor of the world, but we must be willing to sacrifice any and all social capital so that we can point people to Jesus. Our ultimate purpose is to turn people from vain idols to serve a living God. Meeting people’s needs will gather a crowd but calling out their idols will put rocks in their hands.

And don’t think that this is a simple issue of evangelism & ministry. Church people are just as quick (sometimes quicker) to pick up and cast stones. Build them up, offer comfort, and remind them of God’s love and promises and you will be loved. Confront sin, ask for commitment, or even change the order of worship, and you can find yourself stoned.

Living and leading well is risky business. In the morning you will find yourself saying, “I am just a man and not deserving of worship,” only to turn around and say, “Am I really deserving of death?!”

If we are to live and serve faithfully, we must stop worrying about pleasing people, or establishing a reputation, or winning a culture… and simply focus on offering and maintaining the gospel for the rescuing of souls.

If loving people and pursuing mission leads us to meet certain needs, to engage in acts of kindness, or social engagement, or political advocacy, then so be it! But let’s be careful to keep the main thing the main thing. Let’s remember we are Gospel-people first… citizens and heirs to a kingdom that will never end.

And if commitment to the gospel leads to misunderstanding or persecution, if we end up beat down, cast out, exhausted, depressed, and discouraged, we can then gather believers arounds us, get up, and keep going.

sermon begins at 39:38 mark

What Does It Mean to “Be the Church”?

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Many talk about the church. It seems everyone has an opinion, even if that opinion is: it’s not worth having an opinion. But through all the talk and opinion and emotion and preference, all too often, “church” does not mean what many people think it means.

Religious matters are funny. Much of our culture believes that religion and theology are subjective truths, if they can even be considered truths at all. Even Christians operate with a form of this “hands-off” theology. What I mean is, many people develop their own method of doing faith that keeps others at arm’s length and effectively invalidate anything that would challenge the “truths” they have developed for themselves – a system of truth that they are comfortable with. We say things like, “for me, this verse means…” or “I like to think of God like…” or (even worse) “God and I have an understanding.”

Friends, we cannot do faith and life in this way. To know Christ and to come into His kingdom means to surrender to His lordship and to delight in His glory. We cannot do life, faith, or theology in isolation. We cannot approach Him on our own terms or walk with Him by our own understanding. We need one another.

A local church is dsigned to be a faith family, but like all families, there is always a measure of dysfunction. However, our imperfections and idiosyncrasies become the necessary context from which we learn to show love, extend mercy, and demonstrate patience – and (in so doing) we experience what it means for God to have done the same for us.

We learn more about the love of God when we are challenged to forgive those who have hurt us, accept those who are different than us, and defer to those around us. We grow to understand His grace as we invest in those who are learning and show patience to those who are struggling. Striving in faith together, our church family becomes a gospel laboratory where we explore the richness of every “one another” command in Scripture.

If we choose only learn from those who agree with us, what are we really learning? If we only worship according to our preferences, who is really the focus of our worship? If we only surround ourselves with those who are in our demographic, can we ever understand the real depths of God’s love?

When we operate from a consumer mentality and demand that our church (or a prospective church) meets our demands and caters to our comforts and fits our preferences, then we do not understand what it means to “be the church.”

The church is not a building, an organization, or a service club. The local church is to be a family, united in a common faith and given to a common purpose for the glory of God. The local church is visible only when gathered – a time that should be precious and powerful. We are interdependent and therefore mutually invested in one another’s lives. When we are not gathered, we remain connected, representing our family and honoring our Savior in every individual endeavor.

This is why our faith, while deeply personal, is not private. This truth flies in direct opposition to our culture, so biblical faith must transcend cultures.

A spiritual family should not divide over worldly disagreements. Eternal kingdoms cannot fight over temporal concerns. A holy people must not fracture over secular allegiances. The love we have for our Savior and for one another should be the chief and predominant banners that fly over our lives.

There is so very much more to say on this topic, way too much for a brief article. Indeed, this topic would take a lifetime to explore and would require an entire community to discover. But, then again, I believe that is by design… and that’s just the point.

If there is anything I can do to help you explore what biblical community looks like, please start a conversation: leave a comment or reach out at I hope you are having a great week.

Poisoned Minds & Gospel Perseverance

Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers.

Acts 14:1-2

The Gospel, faithfully preached, will never fail to pierce darkness and bring life. No matter how dark a culture, no matter how blind a mind or how dead a heart, the gospel opens spiritual eyes, bringing light and life everywhere it goes.

In the soul of every human being there is a God-shaped hole, an eternal void, that only Christ can fill. This is what it means to be made in His image. This is what Augustine referenced when he declared to God, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.” (emphasis added)

““You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.”

Augustine of Hippo (354-430), The Confessions

Augustine understood well the emptiness of pursuing and even of possessing the pleasures of the world, yet none of them brought him peace. Only the gospel can turn a heart to Christ and only Christ can fill a heart.

While many have responded by faith in the gospel, hearing and believing – receiving life, hope, and peace – yet, not everyone will accept the truth about Jesus.

The gospel might bring light, but darkness fights back. Paul is seeing “a great number” coming to faith in Jesus, but, at the same time, the unbelieving Jews are poisoning the minds of others. Literally, they are “embittering the souls” of the Gentiles towards Paul and Barnabus.

We see in our culture today souls embittered toward the truth of the gospel and minds poisoned toward those who hold fast to its truth. In just two decades we have seen a moral revolution take place at unimaginable speed, turning even the foundational institution of marriage upside down.

Public opinion has risen against God’s truth and public policy is increasingly seeking to punish and expunge all dissent. What is Christ’s Church to do?

As we look to Paul in Iconium, we can see in his ministry at least four traits that helped him handle opposition and persevere in conflict.

So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. (Acts 14:3, ESV)

  • We must stay dedicated to our mission. In the face of deliberate, intentional, targeted, and even dishonest opposition, Paul and his companions “remained for a long time.” I don’t know how long “long” is, but we see the picture of a determined effort to keep preaching the gospel and to keep representing Christ.
  • We must grow bold in our witness. Conflict is not for the faint of heart. Personal attacks hurt, being misrepresented is painful, and being rejected is discouraging. The persistenceof lies, comments, rejection, and loss can (if we let it) leave us feeling hollow, weak, and depressed. Paul and his friends stayed true to their mission, “speaking boldly for the Lord.”
  • We must stand strong in His grace. Ours is a message of what God has done in Christ to reconcile sinners to Himself. While the gospel requires an understanding of sin and a warning of judgment, it is a message of grace. God so loved the world… Jesus came to save sinners… and it is His kindness that leads us to repentance. (John 3:16, 1 Tim 1:15, Romans 2:4) It is our job to declare this message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18) and trust that the Holy Spirit will bring conviction concerning sin, righteousness, and judgement (John 16:8). God showed up in Paul’s ministry as he “bore witness to the word of his grace.”
  • We must offer compassion to our neighbors. The old adage rings true: people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Ears are more attentive when the belly is full; and hearts are more receptive when minds are at ease. Throughout the gospels and here in Acts, we see Jesus and his followers perform miracles and meet needs. These acts of compassion and ministry paved the way over which the gospel traveled. The Lord granted “signs and wonders to be done” throughout Paul’s ministry as a witness to the truth. Likewise, we should seek to do good so that others will see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16), coming to know Christ as Savior and Lord.

We live in ever-changing times and hostility to the gospel in growing. This should not surprise us; Scripture tells us more than once that wickedness will increase and that the love of many will grow cold. Our Savior warned us that in this world we will have tribulation; betrayal, trial, and hardship are unavoidable.

O Church, let us not be paralyzed by lament, caught off guard, or surrender to bitterness. While there is an appropriateness to seeking the protection of our religious liberties, at the same time, our energies need not be centered on maintaining our comforts and securities. The focus of our efforts and the desire of our hearts must be in maintaining faithfulness.

Whatever comes our way, whatever opposition looks like, whatever faithfulness costs, let us decide now to continue in the grace that has been given us. Let us continue to stand steadfast on His truth. Let us never cease from offering the gospel to our neighbors and to the nations. From now until Christ returns, we are to hold out to others the hope of the gospel of His grace. Let’s labor so that when our Savior returns, He will find us faithful, and we will hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servants.”

For more information on the challenges facing Christ’s Church you can find information about the moral revolution in these presentations from Dr. Albert Mohler (an interview 6 years ago and a presentation last year), also a summary of the imposing ‘Equality Act’ from the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

Jesus & the Bible

How do you view the Bible?

Is it trustworthy or suspect? Is it relevant or outdated? Is it antiquated or applicable?
How you view the Bible will shape how you view Jesus. And how you understand the Scriptures will impact how you understand God. To put it another way, your relationship with the Lord and the direction of your faith will be rooted in your opinion of the Bible.

If you view the Bible merely as a human construct, as men reporting their memories and interpretations of what they understood to be divine activities throughout history… if THAT is your understanding of the Bible, you will see God has unpredictable and distant, involved but misunderstood, loving but not ultimately knowable. You may even see Him as uncaring or inconsistent or contradictory. Sure, there are some principles we can draw from and some lessons we can learn, but ultimately, we (like they) are trying to figure out life as best we can who God is and how we can live life together.

That’s one position.

The other is to see the Bible as divine revelation. God has spoken to and through individuals, revealing Himself, His character, His activity, and His expectations. The Bible, although written by human beings pushing physical pens on paper, is ultimately the work of God, by His Spirit, inspiring human authors – sharpening their memories, safeguarding their minds, guiding their thoughts, and speaking through their words.

When we understand Scripture in this way, then God moves closer; He is intentional and involved. More than hiding behind the events of our lives, He is bringing clarity, stepping into the light so that He can be seen and known. Not content with being guessed at, God seeks to be understood. And with the invitation to know Him comes an invitation to be worship Him and love Him. This is the reason for which we have been created.

When all is said and done, there is really only one option that makes sense. If we are going to know God, we either (1) guess and get it right, or (2) He tells us who He is.
If we have been created by God, we are created for His pleasure – to know Him and to worship Him , to enjoy Him and to share Him. If that is our created purpose (and it is) then God is not going to leave us to languish in darkness, grasping for incomplete knowledge of who He is and what He expects.

No. God is loving and He wants us to walk in a rich knowledge of who He is and experience the deep joy of His presence. So, He has spoken – through His Word, through His Son, and by His Spirit.

For anyone who can accept it, the Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to mankind. True, some things are hard to understand, and I believe there are reasons for that. But, like Mark Twain once said, it’s the parts of the Bible that are most clear that cause me the most trouble. While we misunderstand, misuse, and misapply His Word, the fault is ours not His. He has spoken clearly, and if we will listen honestly, we can know Him deeply. If we will stop protecting our idols, stop preserving our agendas, and stop pleasing our impulses, we will be able to hear what He has spoken in His Word — this revelation of Himself and the invitation into His family.

If there is anything I can do to help you understand God through His Word, please reach out… leave a comment, question, prayer request, or send an email.

“A Gospel for All People”

And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region.

Acts 13:48-49 (ESV)

People are hungry for the gospel.

Paul and his companions show up teaching the Word of God as it points to Jesus. Eager to magnify the Name above all names, God honors the faithful preaching of the gospel and almost the whole city turns out to hear the message as it pertains to Christ.

We cannot escape the reality that there is a God-shaped hole, an eternal void, in the soul of every human being and only Christ can fill us. For this reason, the gospel resonates in our hearts when we hear it. Even the stories we write reflect the eternal echoes of the story God is telling.

And for those asking deep questions, only the Bible can answer the deep questions that we struggle with: where did everything come from? what is wrong with our world? why evil? who determines right & wrong? what hope do we have for the future? what happens next? what happens when we die?

Only the Word of God begins to give substantive answers to these questions and others.

Yet, in spite of (and even in jealous reaction to) all this hunger and wonder, many people are and will remain opposed to the gospel. Jesus came to His own people and they did not receive Him. Paul tells us that god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, supressing the truth in unrighteousness, humanity prefers to create evil than embrace what is good.

As a result, God’s people will always face opposition to their faith. Old friends will accuse them of being “too good for them.” Family members will doubt their sincerity or reject them altogether. Our world, even in our communities, will seek to press them with ungodly ideals and molds of conformity. Old religions, beliefs, and prejudices will threaten to undo all the gospel seeks to build.

Be encouraged! While opposition is real and can be daunting, God is still and will always be in the business of saving people.

And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. (v.48)

The focus of this passage is verse 48. The gospel goes to the Gentiles; Paul’s mission is launched, his focus is validated… and the Gentiles rejoice!

Our God is a saving God! The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth so that He might strongly support those whose hearts are completely His. (1 Chronicles 16:9) Take courage! He is the initiator. He sent the message of the gospel. He sent the Savior. And now, He is sending us!!

Not only is He sctively seeking and saving sinners, He intends to use you and me in the process!!! No more barriers. No more “go only to the lost sheep of Israel.” (Matt 10:6) Now, we are commanded to go freely to all people.

The gospel is for all people. …that they might hear the gospel, receive life in Christ, and rejoice! So let’s take the gospel to all people…

  • …so that those struggling with identity can rejoice at the voice of the One who made them offers them rest.
  • …so that those who are isolated and alone can rejoice to find a forever home among the people of God.
  • …so that those who are wounded and hurting can rejoice to know the healing and hope that the life-giving gospel offers.
  • …so that families locked in conflict can rejoice to discover the reconciliation and peace that God brings when He takes up residence in the hearts of family members.

For every sin, Christ provides forgiveness, and from every sin He offers freedom.

The gospel is the light of the glory of Christ.

The world is locked in darkness
and in need of light.

While many will reject the light and prefer darkness,
still others will recognize the light, and grab hold of it, and be saved.

…and we get to participate in shining this light and watching people come to life!

God’s Mission Is His Invitation

Which do you value most: your heart, your lungs, or your brain?

Silly question, right? Every organ in our body serves a purpose and although each one is important, these three are paramount, bearing ultimate importance. Removing any one of these three and life would be unsustainable.

I’ve offered the argument that a believer in Jesus must possess three overriding loves if he or she is going to experience the fullness of life and faith. Without a love for God’s Word, a love for God’s people, and a love for God’s mission, the Christian drifts aimlessly, loses purpose, and eventually, faith proves unsustainable.

Having explored the loves of God’s Word and His people, what does it mean to have a love for God’s mission. Or (even more pressing)… What is “God’s mission?”

For starters, if we look at God’s initial work of creation, what was He doing? In the first chapter of Genesis God makes man and woman in His image and says to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28, ESV)

For the sake of time and ink, fast forward to the prophet Habakkuk. When speaking of God’s intent to restore the earth to His desired condition, God declares, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:14). Throughout Scripture we see an anticipated day with God’s glory fills the entire earth. Combine this with God’s purpose for His people (Old and New Testament) to cause the nations to know the one true God.

Putting these pieces together, we see that God’s purpose from creation was to share Himself with a people who would display His glory throughout all the earth. God intends to be known so that He might invite all people to enjoy Him forever. Ultimately, this is what we see in Revelations as an innumerable multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and tongue gather around His throne. (Revelation 7:9)

Not only does God initial command take on a new meaning, we see a parallel between His first command to His creation and His last command to His Church. “Fill the earth and subdue it,” is not primarily about perpetuating mankind but it is to be about propagating the glory of God and multiplying His image. And now “Go into all the earth making disciples,” is not about promoting a faith system, but it is about promoting that same glory, restoring His image in fallen humanity.

This is our mission. To glorify God by enjoying Him forever, and to enjoy Him so much that we invite others to find joy in Him as well. We are called to be so amazed by the wisdom, majesty, goodness, mercy, and plans of our God that we desire everyone into our amazement. We should be so horrified by the reality of our sin and elated by the offer of restoration, that we beg people to experience that same transformation. We should be so humbled that we can know a holy and righteous God, that we want to introduce Him to all our friends.

I could go on, but I trust you get the idea. I hope what has been said will spur you along to a greater understanding of God, His gospel, the life He offers, and the mission He invites us to participate in. If there is anything else I do to help you along this journey, please reach out… leave a comment, question, prayer requests, or send an email.

“Gospel Message”

“Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation.”

Acts 13:26

Paul arrives as Pisidian Antioch and is invited to speak. The Pharisee become missionary, proceeds to establish common ground with his audience, “Men of Israel and those who fear God.” (13:16)

When you want to preach Jesus and see people come to salvation in Christ, “common ground” must be a launching pad not a final destination. Having laid the foundation of a common belief in Yahweh and a shared hope in Messiah, Paul then moves to declare that Jesus – the resurrected Christ – is the One they are waiting for and hoping in. More than declare Jesus as the Christ, he deomnstrates from the Scriptures that Jesus is the only way to the Father.

As Paul unpacks the reality and wonder of the gospel, we must understand at least three things about this gospel message:

(1) The Message of Salvation has been sent to us.

God has SENT us this message… we did not create this gospel nor could we have ever have guessed our way to salvation. This message has been “once for all delievered to the saints.” (Jude 3) Christianity is not a manmade religion. It is not the fruit of human philosophy or creative storytelling.

No. The Christian faith comes from Divine revelation. God Himself has revealed Himself to His people. Apart from this sovereign initiative, we cannot know God.

More than sending a message to us, God has sent His Son. Christ came to communicate, embody, and establish the gospel. He shared the mind of God as He taught on Galilean hills and in the Judean countryside. He modeled the will of God as He ministered to people, showed compassion, and healed diseases. And He purchased our salvation through His death, burial, and resurrection.

Therefore, it is no mystery that…

(2) This Message of Salvation centers on Christ.

Two key elements of Christ’s life and ministry help us understand the gospel.

First, Christ was rejected by us. Paul says of the Jews that did not recognize Jesus nor did they understand the Scrpitures so they fulfilled those same Scriptures by having Christ killed. (13:27-29)

We have each rejected God and Jesus whom He has sent. None of us are BORN Christians; everyone of us are born into sin with rebellious hearts, strong wills, and stubborn spirits.

Until we acknowledge, grieve over, and turn away from our sin, we cannot know God.

Next, we see that Christ has been vindicated by God. Although we rejected God and had Jesus executed, although we persist in pride and suppress the truth, although we continue in sin and prefer darkness to light, even then God sent Christ and demonstrated His approval of Jesus by raising Him from the dead.

The resurrection is a vital part of our faith — the real, actual, physical, literal raising of Jesus from the dead! The tomb is empty and our salvation is secure because Christ defeated death and blazed a trail into heaven for all who will trust Him through repantant faith.

Because Jesus has been raised from the dead… His claims are validated, His sacrifice is received, and His teaching is verified. Also, the promise we have of a future resurrection, beating death, and living eternally with Him – all these promises are confirmed.

Finally, as Paul concludes His gospel message, we recognize…

(3) This Message of Salvation demands a response.

This message is either believed for salvation & reconciliation or it is rejected unto destruction & alienation.

This gospel rings true. It’s truth is clear and compelling; it’s hope is real and authentic. It’s ancient echoes ring true and find substance in Christ. This is not a made-up religion. It is the promise of God as He was revealed Himself to us throughout history. And only those who suppress the truth and insist on self-rule can convince us otherwise. Jealousy and self-importance will keep us from embracing Christ as our Savior.

The appropriate response to this message, and the only saving response, is to thank the Lord for sending Jesus, to acknowledge our sinfulness before Him and ask for forgiveness, and surrender your life to His grace and authority.

…and if you need help knowing how to do that, wondering what it looks like, or are unsure if you need to, please message me or leave a comment. I would enjoy having that conversation with you.