Saturday, July 31, 2010

One Time for All Time

 By this will we have been sanctified through the offering
of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Every priest stands daily ministering and offering
time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;
but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time,
sat down at the right hand of God...
For by one offering He has perfected for all time
those who are sanctified.

Hebrews 10:10-12, 14
Italics mine

Once for all, one sacrifice for all time, and one offering for all time.  The power and the efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf.  The blood of innumerable bulls, goats, and lambs were not adequate for and were not effective in providing redemption. 

The offering of the body of Christ completely sanctifies all those whom have placed their faith in Him and His work of redemption.  His offering is that by which God sets us apart from sin and unto Himself.  The power of that offering is in the holiness of the one who was offered up.  He was the sinless Lamb of God, and in His sinlessness was the perfection and power of the offering.  This one offering, thereby, which God could accept on behalf of all those who, having no intrinsic merit, would accept this specific sacrifice as their own, and therefore be sanctified wholly and completely unto God; becoming His own possession through the redemption wrought in this sacrifice

His is a one time for all time sacrifice for sins, which permanently takes away the sin of all who place their faith in Him.  No sin is too strong to or too resilient to stand up to the power of His blood.  He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  In His blood was the power to cleanse the guilt of sin, and remove the guilt of sin from all who come to Him confessing their sin and need of His cleansing power; and in faith trusting in His sacrifice as the means of removal of the stain of sin upon them.

Not only has His sacrifice sanctified us and taken away the guilt of sins from us, but through that one offering we are made complete in Him for all time.  Nothing else is needed, nothing else can be added, and for all time we live in the sphere of the fullness and completeness of His sacrifice.  This is the Sabbath rest of God that we are to enter into.  Resting in what He has brought to completion on our behalf in the once for all offering of His Son.  We rest in the completeness, the effectiveness, the permanence of this one offering, by faith accepting this offering on our behalf.  It is the rest of faith, resting in and resting upon this glorious truth that God in Christ has most thoroughly and completely and effectively done every thing needed to accomplish His great salvation.  Which is why the author of Hebrews tells us up front to not neglect it.

Let us rejoice and celebrate this great salvation in our own hearts and souls, singing and making melody in our hearts to God.  And let's share this joy and melody with those with whom we gather each Lord's day.  Let our joy and thanksgiving be contagious.

Only You Father could do such a thing, could accomplish such a great salvation on behalf of those whom You have set Your great affection upon from before the foundation of the world.  Who are we Lord, to be showered and lavished with such a great love?  Who are we Lord?  Who are we?  But we are grateful, knowing our own unworthiness, but basking and glorying in what You have done on our behalf.  Praise You!  Glorify Your name!  May Your name be great in all the earth, may it be great in our heart, and great on our lips.  To You and You alone be glory, power, majesty, and dominion this day and forever!  Amen.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lip-Syncing Your Faith

To the pure all things are pure;
but to those who are defiled and unbelieving,
nothing is pure, but both their mind 
 and their conscience are defiled.
They profess to know God,
but by their deeds they deny Him,
being detestable and disobedient 
and worthless for any good thing.
Titus 1:15-16

Behavior is of unsurpassed importance in the Christian way.
Don Carson
"A Model of Christian Maturity"
Page 149

Several years ago there was a pop group named Milli Vanilli and they were riding the crest of popularity until it was discovered that they were not the ones actually singing, but that they were lip-syncing their music.  They did not posses the talent they professed to have.  Great showmen, yes.  Looked the and hip, absolutely.  Said all the right things, of course.  But it was discovered they were not really what they professed to be. 

There is and always has been those who lip-sync their faith, who say the right things and look the part when they are in front of the Christian crowd, but are eventually given away by their behavior, by the actual things that they say, do, and participate in on a consistent basis.  You see, you really do live out what you believe.  In fact, it is impossible to do otherwise.  

Friday, July 09, 2010

Milestone III

Well, another year has passed, and we have finished our third year as a church.  We began on the third Sunday in June 2007 because of the the call of God, and have continued because of the grace of God.  We continue to be grateful that the Lord has called us and entrusted us with the gospel and His people. 

This has been the most eventful year so far, and, I believe, the most spiritually fruitful year.  We lost a couple of families that had been with us for while.  One, over the issue of male leadership (which we hold to), and the other, over a disagreement that I was never quite sure what it was.  Both families left peacefully. I did not like seeing them leave, and still have a great deal of affection for them.  But disagreements do come up, and sometimes they can be worked through and sometimes they can't; but to the credit of the families that left, they never tried to be disruptive or raise a stink because we disagreed.  It is going through times of disagreement that confirm what you really believe by testing your commitment to what you say you believe, and that is a good thing.

As I mentioned in another post, we baptized three young ladies at the end of last summer.  We will have another baptismal service later this summer or early fall.  Baptisms are great events as they are testimonies of the Lord's work in the lives of people.  The Lord has been working among us again over this last year and I am looking forward for all of us hearing testimony of His great grace.  I enjoy preaching the gospel more now than I ever have, and continue to be more in awe and more appreciative of its power unto salvation.

At the end of April we ordained an elder and a deacon.  It is gratifying to see God answer prayer and raise men up to take on the service/leadership roles in our church.  Both men separately went through a 13 week orientation before the ordination.  It gave us a time to get to know one another better and be prepared together for the work that each office requires.  The respect I had for these men grew during our time together, and I believe the Lord has strengthened our church through this process.

We held a church wide bible study on Tuesday nights during the spring.  We met at Baptist church on the north side of town, and they were gracious in turning their facility over to us to use however we needed.  We worked through a study entitled Fundamentals of the Faith.  It was good for us as a church to go through and do some foundational shoring on the basics of doctrine and practice.  It was well attended, and we will do another foundational study this fall on salvation, what it is and what God has accomplished for us through it.  It should help all of us appreciate our salvation so much more.

This spring we again went to the Shepherd's Conference.  Last year we took four men, but this year we took eight men, and hope to add to that next Spring.  The desire on the part of our men to grow spiritually, and make the sacrifice to go gives me great joy, and is evidence of the work the Lord is doing in them.

Our children are growing, as well.  My wife Angie has done a wonderful job in implanting Biblical truth into the hearts and minds of the children, and her goal is to give them the wisdom that leads to salvation.  She does have a gift in taking Biblical truth and explaining it in a way that makes it understandable and relevant to the children. One of our familes told me that their Bible discussion on Sunday evenings was usually over what was learned at the children's Sunday School.

We have continued to grow numerically, slowly and steadily.  While that is a good and desired thing, the best thing is to watch the growth in the people that the Lord is causing because of the preaching of His word.  Seeing prayers answered, not just mine, but the prayers of our people is a wondrous thing.  And having people come each Sunday expecting to hear from the Lord, and looking forward to what they will hear from the Lord lets you know that the Lord is at work in our midst.  The things that our people have shared with me about what God is doing in their life, and their appreciation and love for the expository preaching/teaching they are receiving are the Lord's ways of confirming what we are doing, and encouraging. 

Again, we enter another year not knowing what will take place, where the Lord will lead us, but knowing that we have a purpose and place in His eternal plan; and enter this next year even more committed to being a gospel centered church.  So we will continue this walk, this journey, mindful of all that He has done and all that He is doing, so that we will keep the faith and not grow weary in doing good.