THEY ARE HERE!!
The brand new 2014 Annual Church Profile has just arrived. We will be sending a copy to your church soon.
THEY ARE HERE!!
The brand new 2014 Annual Church Profile has just arrived. We will be sending a copy to your church soon.
SEMINOLE BAPTIST ASSOCIATION CELEBRATES 100 YEARS!
Part 1 dealt with some basic definitions as well as “WHERE WE ARE” on the filling of the Holy Spirit. I continue with some concerns and challenges.
WHAT WE MISS! The Holy Spirit filled life is not only a specific command and teaching of the Bible, but it may also serve as a summary phrase for some of the doctrine of sanctification by grace. God’s Spirit working in, with, to, and through us to grow us in holiness, love, and faith making us more like our Lord Jesus inside and out (Phil. 2:12,13) is the Spirit filled life.
When preachers and teachers reduce our faith to confessions and creeds (though they may be Biblically accurate and necessary) then instruct people how to live and behave (even using the Scriptures) but DO NOT teach the truth about the filling of the Spirit, we fail them and the Gospel. This practice produces pride, Pharisee-ism, frustration, and even false converts. When we as Christians intimate that the experience of salvation is to try to do better in our strength and somehow to “hold out faithful to the end”, we are of all men most miserable. Because of lack of instruction, many think the Christian life doesn’t work when the truth is, for most church members, the real Christian life has not been tried! We MUST teach that: 1- We cannot do what the Bible commands in our own strength. Christ never intended this. 2-Through His Spirit, He desires to live in and through us by faith. We must believe Him to do what He has commanded to be done. 3- We MUST teach one another how to seek and receive and maintain the power that works in us by the domination of His Holy Spirit.
We deceive people when we merely instruct and inspire them for better behavior and obedience, allowing them to think that by law, works, or efforts of the flesh they may please the Lord. By teaching that we can live apart from the Spirit controlled life, we “fall from grace” in the area of sanctification by the Spirit. Jesus said in John 5:30, “I can of Myself do nothing…” (an incredible statement for the Son of God). How could we not take Him seriously in His teaching on abiding in Him in John 15:5 when He said, “…without Me you can do nothing”? This is more than just a generic truth but is specifically designed by God to be accomplished by the filling of His Spirit in the believer.
WHAT GOD GAVE! For the doctrinally diligent among us, consider this: The Holy Spirit’s fullness indeed does make us more like our Lord. To be godly and represent His name Elohim, (Gen. 1:1) meaning among other things, the God of fullness, we must ourselves be full of His Spirit. The song writer said, “His height exceeds the Heavens, His weight out-weighs the world, His reach reaches everywhere, His age is evermore.” No wonder the Scripture says, “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace” (John 1:16); and “in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him…” (Col. 2:9,10).
What God gives is fullness, and Who He gives is His Holy Spirit! He indwells every believer at conversion. Then we continue to yield so the Spirit of Christ may be Who He is in who we are so we can be who we are supposed to be. This is the grace for living, and it is found in Jesus by His Spirit’s fullness in each believer. He is the very dynamic of His own demands. “Faithful is He that calleth you, Who also will do it” (I Thess. 5:24).
Since early this year when God again visited me on this subject to revitalize these truths in me and my ministry, there have been attacks, struggles, failures, and victories. Oh how I thank Him for walking with me in all this! I still believe what our Lord Jesus shouted at the feast in John 7:37f, “…’If anyone thirsts, let him come unto Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive;…” A river is defined by its source, its course, its force, and its capacity. We must seek to define our faith not only by doctrine and duty but also by its dynamic!
Now some questions for us all: Is the teaching you give, seek, and receive FULL of the filling of His Spirit? Are you seeking Him and His fullness in your life? Are you asking God what hinders Him from filling you? Are you seeking through knowledge of the Word and obedience to increase the capacity of the river of your heart?
Glenn Rogers – July 2013
Yes, there is a doctrine, and therefore a family of truths, that is as Gospel based as can be but has fallen off the preaching and teaching landscape in our churches today. That truth is the filling of the Holy Spirit! Surely someone receiving this message will say, “Well, I just preached on it”, or “I teach that regularly”. Good, but you are the exception. I occasionally hear this truth expressed in prayer but rarely expounded in the pulpits.
Now, I don’t mean to convey we only need a sermon on this here and there. Much more than that, this whole group of Gospel truths – dying to self and being risen with Christ – must be applied to our lives and woven into the very fabric of our messages. This is sanctification by the Spirit. More later on why this is vital.
In this writing I am not attempting to expound this great teaching. Yet for clarity’s sake, I am speaking of He, the Holy Spirit, being in control of the believer’s life. That same dominating, possessing, inherent control that Jesus walked in, we must have also. This is not emotion; it is empowerment. It is not a feeling but a filling! In Eph. 5:18, “be filled” is in the imperative, meaning a command. More so, it is a present tense, indicating a consistent experience. Interestingly, it is in the passive voice, meaning we are acted upon – we cannot do this! Does this mean we are commanded to do something we cannot do? Precisely! This is the same pattern theologically as “you must be born again”, and we know we cannot save ourselves. God is the initiator, and we are the respondents. In Acts 4:8, Peter is “filled with the Holy Spirit”. Again, it is in the passive voice but here in an aorist tense, telling us that at this particular point in time this filling was done to him. Yes, God’s Spirit just landed on him, a special touch for a specific task. So whether it is us seeking this powerful filling or God sending it for special times, WE NEED HIS FILLING POWER and are meant to serve Him with it! While this is obviously mystical, it is also objective since the Word of God is our guide for life in the Spirit (Col 3:16).
WHERE ARE WE? In the 70’s and 80’s, every itinerant evangelist I knew and all solid Bible-centered pastors preached on the filling of the Spirit. Some of this came in seeking to clear up some neo-pentecostal confusion, but thankfully it went way beyond that. Conferences abounded, tapes were heard and shared, and churches were alive and hungry to hear more. There was a genuine move of God in Baptist and Evangelical churches by the dear Holy Spirit teaching us how He works in and through us to empower us, exalting Jesus as we show and share the Gospel.
This teaching went by many names such as “the abundant life”, “the exchanged life”, “the deeper life” (the name of my seminary course), “the saving life of Christ”, “life in Christ” and more. It was often said, “Whatever you call it, get it!”
Today there is hardly a peep. I recently met a godly man who has a sound background in this area who told me that in eleven years in area churches he has not heard one sermon on this area of sanctification. This may be isolated, but I believe it is representative. I will not take time to expound all the reasons for the dearth of these truths; but let it be noted: the teaching has faded, and so have we!
1 Kings 14:26-28 tells about how Rehoboam replaced the gold shields Solomon made (which were stolen by Egypt) with bronze shields. These shields were used to honor the king. What does it take to make bronze look like gold? A lot of elbow grease, i.e. a lot of effort of the flesh. It was still a substitute. I’m afraid we have substituted the fleshly effort of the bronze shields of Church Growth techniques and tools from the Leadership movement for Holy Spirit power. My late father was a highly-skilled professional craftsman, and I inherited nearly all his tools. I may sharpen them and polish them and attempt to use them, but I still do not possess the skill and power with which he worked. We keep polishing our tools rather than seeking from God “gold refined in the fire” (Rev 3:18).
As I conclude this portion, I will add one thing that relates to a wider subject: Nothing will affect our prayer life like the seeking of the fullness of the Holy Spirit through His Word!
Having set out earlier to write on this, I had hoped to encourage the Pastors and teachers as they prepared for the ministry of the Word during Easter Services. Alas, Good Friday is here, I still hope it is timely to offer to strengthen us with these comments.
It is great to celebrate the Resurrection or our Lord Jesus, not only by our regular day of worship but on a special day we have come to call Easter. In that context I have an admonition and two points of clarity.
The admonition is to avoid the simplistic victory cliches unless you will expound them well. I have heard too many Easter morning messages that amounted to “yeah God, our side wins”. I do not usually conclude that this is the pastor’s full understanding of the subject but why make reductions about such a great, deep, far reaching, and glorious subject. While the “we win” idea is true in the greater context of the Gospel, be wise. There are many, many who attend Easter services (even some regular church attenders) who are just happy to hear a message of triumph and victory. Everybody likes a winner and an over-comer, right? Their need is the have the Gospel applied not reduced, with the ramifications of the resurrection past, present, and future expounded with great joy and soberness! While the Easter message is our most automatic and taylor made positive subject it still must be presented so that life change can occur, not merely a temporary upsurge in encouragement.
In addition to the Gospel accounts, 1 Corinthians 15 best lays out key reasons for the imporance of Christ’s resurrection (and ours as well). Granted some of the early sermons in Acts (on which I wrote volumes in seminary) do seem to emphasize the impact of the event of Jesus being alive again without much theological elaboration. For most of those brethren to have seen Jesus crucified with all hope lost and then to see or hear that He is alive is powerful enough to turn lost hope into forever faith. Yet looking at the Epistles that follow the event it becomes obvious that God wants us to gain and proclaim the full ramifications of the resurrection. This gives God glory and is what people today need. Again, “yeah God, our side wins” may be correct but is so thin, that without context and consequences and content, it may be heard only as a “feel good” message that could end badly for too many!
That said, I offer two points of clarity that are vital to any redemptive presentation of the resurrection. Since the Gospel is essentially who Jesus and what He did (and why and how to respond etc.) here are some essentials.
Romans 1:4 tells us that He is “…declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” It would take weeks at minimum to unpack that but it does give us a “short course’ on who He is as now confirmed by His bodily resurrection. When we say, “He is risen” it is great to be reminded who He is that is now alive forever more and that we will know Him as Savior or as Judge but we will know the risen Lord. Acts 17:22-34 gives further clarity and confirmation of how powerful the proclamation of the resurrection can be.
In Romans 4, after describing our sinful, condemned, and eternally hopeless condition God gives Paul the correlation of the man Abraham to illustrate a vital truth, and to begin to unfold our greatest need, i.e. to be made righteous in God’s sight. He concludes this section in speaking of our Lord Jesus with verse 25 saying, “who was delivered up because of our offenses, and raised because of our justification.” This points to what He did and why as well.
These two verses not only tell us a lot of truth about our risen Lord they also form the basis of the good news of the resurrection which, with clarity, must be proclaimed in order that people may experience salvation with understanding and to really believe in their heart that God has raised Him from the dead!
This is what we want for people and helps us to see what the Psalmist said, “His glory is great in thy salvation.” Let us not reduce the resurrection but rather reach deep into the Word and spread widely and wisely it’s truth.
Glenn Rogers, March 27, 2013
While I hope soon to write on the reach of the Resurrection, first I must give my eyewitness account of a meeting today in Longwood, FL. It was sad beyond measure and a challenge to the truth of the cross of Christ.
Dr. Chris Whaley, the Sr. Pastor of FBC, Longwood, made me aware recently of a meeting to which he and other Longwood residents were invited. I told him if he went I would go and back him up! Dr. Whaley, myself, and several of his church members were there. “OPEN HOUSE–JESUS IN ISLAM” was the topic presented at the new American Muslim Community Center in Longwood. The stated goal of the invitation was “to start a dialogue with our Christian neighbors and friends.”
Imagining two or three scenarios which might unfold, I went in “prayed up” and meditating on our Lord. The Longwood church members had already gone around the center and prayed. A passage from the Quran was read in Arabic and then interpreted in English. A guest speaker, who reguarly addresses such events began his lecture and told us that we may submit written questions to be dealt with after he spoke. I had plenty but only submitted four. As a partial disclaimer, I am not an expert in Islam; but I do know and am called to proclaim the truth about our Lord Jesus, my main motivation. Also, I am burdened by this expanding heresy; and, though grieved, I am also challenged that the foreign mission field is coming to us and thus is another Gospel opportunity. If you want me to tell more of this story at your church, I will.
Though I took many notes on the presentation, I will summarize the content here. They want us to believe, that they love “Jesus”. I set the name off here because it is not the Jesus of the Bible. The speaker always said, “Peace be upon him” after mentioning the name of his “Jesus”. This other “Jesus” was presented as virgin born, a top prophet (Rasul), and as having received revelation from Gabriel. While I felt the speaker was condescending to Christians in the presentation, he was more-so in person as we spoke afterwards. He did his best to be lighthearted and smile and make the Christian guests feel we are in affinity with Islam. Some TV preachers may have been pleased with his seeker-sensitive efforts. This was all part of the deception. More than once he asked for affirmation from the Christians, hoping for more togetherness. One of the statements was: “If ‘Jesus’ was here, wouldn’t he want us all to get along?” I believe our Lord’s word about bringing a sword fit here; so I said “no” audibly, hoping to engage him in the desired “dialogue”. Alas, he went on without me.
Many people submitted questions, and to my surprise he dealt with three of mine first. In my written submissions, I had Bible quotes about the nature of Christ to introduce my question. He deftly avoided reading the real Word of God by saying he is not a Bible scholar. On this alone I agree. I believe he is an erstwhile scholar being unwittingly used by the American version of Islam thereby being doubly deceived. He really did stay on point to show the “Jesus” of Islam, and I could sense the smile of Satan as he spoke. Also, I experienced the Holy Spirit’s presence in and upon me as I reviewed the truth in my mind preparing for the conversations to follow, often praying for the lost in the meeting.
Afterward in three different converstions, two with the speaker and one with another Muslim leader, I confronted them with the truth as clearly and lovingly as I could. My point was to speak of the Christ of the Bible not to find common ground around this other “Jesus” I learned of “Tiqiyya”, the teaching that it is acceptable to lie for Allah to advance the cause, from a Missouri Synod Lutheran pastor sitting next to us. Before my eyes, I saw our God’s words to Pastor Timothy by Paul fulfilled– “deceiving and being deceived”, as this “Tiqiyya” was being practiced.
I burned within to tell them of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God; and I did so in all of my conversations. Their view of them having the original text of the Quran and us not having original or early manuscripts of the Bible is not only in error but feeds their deception about Islam and the Person of Christ. I presented to them, with Bible quotes, that Jesus is God’s Son and that He was crucified for our sins and raised from the dead bodily–all of which they summarily rejected. This same scenario played out on other closely related subjects. The “father of lies” had been at work, but we serve the Living God!
Somewhere deep inside, I chafe and grieve when my Savior is misrepresented knowing I am called to present His Gospel without doubt and with life-changing clarity. This event was designed to deceive many concerning the Jesus of Holy Scripture. This is a latter days fulfillment, and we must beware of more of the same even within our own ranks. Too many are so untaught today that they cannot discern the truth and will believe “the lie” foretold in II Thessalonians 2.
To this moment, I know not whether I was short on wisdom or long on courage but “Christ was preached!” Did I win converts or debates? Not yet. I do know I went to be an ambassador for Christ and to encourage the brethren as I greatly desired to proclaim the truth in Christ, to speak light into darkness, and to let our Lord be heard through His Word and messenger.
May God empower us. And now, “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” I Peter 3:15-17.
Glenn Rogers, March 23, 2013
Many have been on news overload since the ramp up to the National elections and I include myself in that. I get my news from TV, Radio, Internet, and yes still the Newspaper (all these include many surveys). I try to glean from various sources not just the conservative ones even though both sides seem pretty predictable.
My father told me when I was a little boy to remember that even though the news may be factual it is still only what they wanted you to hear. I think that is still accurate.
This month I have been thinking more and more about what I would know about our country if I knew little or nothing from news sources.
So then, “If I Didn’t Watch the News”.
I wouldn’t know that our country is divided politically, but I would know it is more divided socially.
I wouldn’t know that politicians gets in the way of truth constantly, but I would know that pragmatism gets in the way of truth commonly. “It works for me” is sadly enough.
I wouldn’t know that there is a fierce debate over gun rights, but I would know that most people have them and use them wisely with or without laws.
I wouldn’t know that there is a political football and real concern over who is responsible for immigration issues, but I would know there are a lot of people of all races that do not know or care about the freedom we have to take responsibility for our own lives.
I wouldn’t know that according to various surveys 3% claim to be homosexual and want the right to get married, but I would know that many heterosexual couples do not want to be married.
I wouldn’t know that most Americans say they belong to a church, but I would know there is no rush hour traffic on Sundays.
I wouldn’t know that well over half claim to be Christians, but I would know that they don’t say much about it.
I wouldn’t know that people here claim to be religious, but I would know that most people I talk to about it do not know Christ in a permanent relationship.
I wouldn’t know that some put little to no trust in our President, but I would know that many more people practice little to no trust in Christ.
I wouldn’t know that a political division rests on our country, but I would know that a spiritual dullness rests on our churches.
This list could go on but I do believe what I know from God’s Word and attendant observations is more important than what I see in the news.
In Matthew 13 Jesus warned us in the parable of the sower that cares, troubles and the wicked one can steal truth from us. How subtle a thief an erstwhile righteous news presentation can be. What God said is not new but oh how true.
Glenn Rogers 1-31-13
I’ll not review Part I here as I will assume if you are reading this, you can, well, read! See Part I post as needed.
III. The Court Decision. At least 3 times now in my life span our U. S. Supreme Court has made a ground shifting ruling. The first was taking Bible reading and prayer from public schools. It seems we’ve digressed in our reading ever since. Also, Roe v. Wade in 1973 granted us the right to break the 7th commandment and murder the most helpless among us, the unborn. Now we have the Affordable Care Act (ACA). While the subject is health care, the consequences are more far reaching than that issue. It has established a new “slippery slope” where we will continue to slide downward into more government intervention and away from the previously established freedoms which God gave our founding fathers. These freedoms enable us to obey God and take His Gospel around the world. This latest decision simply leads to greater “federalism”.
The “War Between the States” (I use this title to make a point, that the issue then nor now is “Civil”) was fought to correct the horrible evil of slavery, and this was needed! Yet, this war also began as never before to crush states rights. Generally before this war of 1861-1865, our country was referred to as “the United States are” but afterward “the United States is“. This grammar captures a subtle but real change. Now while that is not all bad, it could lead to the next war which may be upon us already. If certain states’ leaders have the courage and conviction, we may soon really have a greatly shifted landscape including, but not limited to, gay states vs straight states, health-care states vs we-care states, baby-killing birth-controlled states vs save-the-babies states, elder-dispare states vs elder-care states, Feds have-the-guns states vs citizens-have-the-guns states. To summarie this, we could have Federal-run states vs tax-revolt states. Each of these issues already divides citizens, and history shows that states reflect citizen’s concerns.
To put it where we’ll feel it, we now can be taxed/penalized for NOT doing what the U.S. Government says. This is shocking and is an historic low. Yes, the ACA does not yet call for new physicians; but it does call for 16,000 new IRS agents, a point that cannot be overlooked!
Peter and John’s experience in Acts 3 and 4 may already be upon us. In Acts 4:19, 20, they said to the authorities, “…whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard.” I’ll apply for us what had they done. a) They weren’t properly credentialed. b) They practiced health care outside the common system (0n an “older person”). c) They preached repentance and the resurrection. d) They named the sins of leaders. e) They gave credit to Jesus’ name. This is normal Gospel giving and living to me; but they were threatened and later punished because they would not back up, let up, or shut up till God called them up! “BE READY!” In the words of the late Adrian Rogers, “It’s getting gloriously dark.”
IV. The Call to Disciple Making. We must re-examine how Jesus told us to call people to Him and to obey Him through the Gospel. This will not neglect people making decisions and being taught; but we will need to go beyond late 20th Century patterns of “decision-ism” (pray this prayer) and “discipleship” (attend this class). We do not need to come up with something new, hallelujah! We just need to recapture the essence of what our Lord taught us. Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “…If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me”. He said again in Luke 14:27, “…whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be my disciple.” The context of both passages tells us all to count the costs. This should be reflected in the words of every pulpit call and personal encounter with those hearing the “good news” of Jesus as well as those who are redeemed. The “make disciples” and teach them to “obey” of the Great Commission are both simple and stunning and precisely what prepares people for the increasing difficulties of this life and the delights of the next!
V. The Carriage of Our Defense. A disciple of Jesus must know his weapons. Yes, you should arm yourself and know your rights and responsibilities as it relates to guns. The Second Amendment is not about “duck hunting”. It is estabished so that citizens can protect themselves from a tyrannical federal government turned against its people. However, proper use of guns WILL NOT win the battle we face. Perhaps they can protect us and our loved ones so we can survive to use our true weapons, the Word of God and prayer. Even Jesus told his first disciples to take a sword.
Two swords are mentioned in the New Testament, both are symbolic of God’s Word. First is a “saber”. This is a large blade symbolizing the whole Word and way of God. In John 1, the “word” is logos, the whole message of God. John also writes in Revelation of a sword in the mouth of the returning Christ. This is that big saber. We must know and believe the whole Word of God and stand upon it! Second is the “dagger” used for close up fighting. In Ephesians 6:17, the word “rhema” is used. This is like the dagger for specific warfare against the real enemy, Satan. The big saber is sharp and swift, and God is using it all the time. The dagger is what we do in His power to properly apply His Word.
In God’s plan, we are well equipped for this battle of the ages, including the current battle which is shaping up in the “land of the free”. However, these swords cannot be rusty, dull, broken or timidly hidden. So we must sharpen our swords that we may really “BE READY” for what is coming. Iron sharpening iron is our need. We must take the way we use His message to “make disciples” and sharpen this with God’s own Word. Yes, in the setting of personal, religious, and political persecuation Jesus told us how to call people to Himself. We must simply do what he first said, “Follow me”. This is where we will find His power. Perhaps then we may exeprience His promised presence as not before seen in our lifetime. We say with Paul, “our time is at hand….”
After delivering this message at our Pastors’ Conference/Executive Committee this month many requested my notes and outline so here it is in a slightly expanded form.
This is on my heart deeply and lines up with some of my existing concerns for churches today. Rarely has a U.S. Supreme Court decision hit me so hard. Hear me clearly; this message is not about Health Care, even though some related comments are warranted. It is related in the sense that the Court’s action on the “Affordable Care Act” (ACA) is dramatic and calls us to “BE READY”, the original title of my message.
I. A CALL FOR DESCERNMENT. I Chronicles 12:32 tells of the “children of Issachar” who had something desperately needed in church leaders today, they “had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do.” These men, it is said were “equipped for war.” Our day does not call for Washington D. C. bashers but real spiritual leaders who know where the battle is and how to prepare for it. I’ll say more on this as it relates to churches in point V.
II. THE CARE THAT DOESN’T. While the ACA seems to offer health care to those in need it does some other things that are problematic.
One is, how will it be payed for? Taxes and penalties, oh my – more to come! This could bankrupt our nation! I’ll insert here a word on the economy. In the Bible the economic situation was never the problem nor is it today. Yes, people will go to the polls this fall and be strongly motivated by their view of the economic climate, but it is not the problem. As in the days of the Bible, the economic situation was a way for God to bless His people or to chasten them and get their attention. I say He is shouting at us now. Where are the “children of Issachar” who understand this? Proverbs14:34 is still true and applicable, “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” We have forsaken the commands of the Lord in the nation and in the churches. Most of our people could not tell us much of the commands of God nor do they seem to grasp that they cannot keep them apart from grace – and yet it is there through the Gospel of Christ our Lord!
Two is, I believe we can do better than the current ACA. Likely though we won’t without real repentance and humility. Without these the grace of God simply will not be with us to give us a wiser approach. Sincere people want God to do something. Well, He is! He is chastening our churches and judging our nation. That is what He is doing! The evidence of this is at least three-fold. First, there are simply too many things in our nation and that are wrong and how many people really care. There is a lot going on in America that “ain’t very American.” Second, there is a lot of effort in the Great Commission by sincere churches today (including SBC) that simply is not producing fruit as we hope and pray for. This is an indication that the Lord’s presence he spoke of Matthew 28:20 is not with us in a great degree. Third, for president we now have a choice between member of a cult (Mormon) and Muslim sympathizer. It is as if God is saying “Okay, so you don’t think doctrine is important and that religious pluralism is correct, here is the fruit.” God help us! All these are indications of the displeasure of God with His people and the nation He gave them for the Gospel.
The continuation of this will include 3 ground shifting Supreme Court decisions with a lesson and warning from the U.S. Civil War, instructions from Acts 3 and 4, and most importantly how we need to see disciple making in light of this decision and what our weapons really are. “BE READY!”
Well, first of all we think of space for people and special portions of the
service as just some regular challenges that most churches face. Yet a much
bigger challenge exists because of the cultural view of Easter Sunday.
The truth that Christ rose bodily from the grave “for our justification”
(Rom 4:25) is more than just exciting it is essential and the challenge for
every preacher will be making this clear.
I went this week to purchase an Easter Card at a prominent store. Over 150
cards were for sale and only two referenced the resurrection of Jesus and
those two did little or nothing to expound on the meaning.
I do not write to criticize the card companies or the store but to point out
that our Easter Sunday crowd is much closer to the emphasis of the cards
than to what scripture tells of the meaning and impact of the Resurrection.
Perhaps a few in our churches on Sunday may want proofs of the resurrection,
but most need to know what the resurrection proves! This goes to the very
core of our Gospel and to the veracity of the written Word of God, the
Bible, and to the Living Word of God, Jesus the Messiah.
People will be there for all kinds of reasons; duty, cultural, traditional,
and even because they think it will make them more spiritual. While this may
be somewhat true of any Sunday morning service in Western Civilization any
time of year it is amplified greatly on Easter as is our challenge in the
I’ll put it this way. With the combination of our culture being in general
spiritually minded and also constantly looking for a cause to celebrate,
Easter fits just right for some without ever examining the meaning. With
some songs and some sermons so detached from the greater significance of
the Gospel it may come across that we are just “celebrating a win for our
team.” And the collective mentality is now, “Yeah God, good for us. Okay
what’s next.” Our lack of changed lives after Easter is like a great big
yawn in the face of the God of redemption.
It is a challenge to break through this. More people expected in church with
a lower spiritual IQ should call for more praying, more preparation, and
more depth of presentation of the Gospel and it’s claims in song and sermon.
This is no time for entry level clichés and shallow sermons. On this day we
proclaim a truth so vital that if it were taken away Christianity would
collapse like a proverbial house of cards. That Christ rose from the grave
should and does cut across all cultural thinking!
The four Gospel give us the narrative and many passages give us the meaning.
We are NOT short on material. Praise God! Perhaps no passage is more
striking in content and application than Acts 17:30,31 which is part of
Paul’s message to a religious crowd of unbelievers and skeptics. “Truly,
these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere
to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world
in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of
this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (NKJV) Whatever else may be
learned from this passage do not miss this; the very Christ whose
resurrection we celebrate will be the judge of the celebrants, including
those who come to “celebrate Easter” and never confess the Christ as Lord.
This remains gloriously frightening.
Brethren be clear, be kind, be much about challenging the hearers, not only
with the victory of the resurrection but also with understanding and
embracing the ramifications of the resurrection. Let our message lay an
eternal claim upon those who hear.
Welcome to the web presence of the Seminole Baptist Association. We are an association of more than 40 Southern Baptist Churches in the Central Florida area. We hope that you will find the web site useful.
Here you will find our Calendar of Events, information about our staff, and a blog from the Director of Missions.
Seminole Baptist Association
1895 E. Graves Avenue
Orange City, FL 32763 (click here for map)
P.O. Box 741147
Orange City FL 32774
Director of Missions: Glenn Rogers
Administrator/Assistant DOM Bill Tate