Monday, October 31, 2016

No Matter who is President, Jesus is King

As this is the last post before the election, I thought it would be a good time to get down to basics. At this point we are 12 days away from seeing who are new president will be. This has been a brutal race, that has poured over from the political into the personal. Friendships have been impacted and even ended by who one supports. At the end of the day though, November 9th will come. The rhetoric will change and this election will move into the background. So as we ride through this last two weeks, let us turn our eyes to the future. Let us remember what we love about those who think differently than us, and when we can't understand their point of view let us cling to grace. Because in the times that matter, the times of great joy or great sorrow, we won't see one's political affiliation we will just want our friend.

We are also a people who are set apart. We have a higher calling than civic duty or American patriotism, we belong to the King of kings, and the Lord of lords. Our duty is do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. Our calling is to love the Lord our God with our whole hearts, mind, soul, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. So let us join together and pray for each other, pray for our country, pray for our president and pray for peace.

Rev. Michelle

Saturday, October 15, 2016

What about my non-believer friends?

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
    the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."

Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. (NRSV)

One of the great problems people have with reformed doctrine is our adherence to particular (or limited) Atonement.  This is the doctrine of the faith which says that Jesus died only for the elect. Though Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient for all, it was not efficacious for all in that Jesus only bore the sins of the elect.

Support for this position is drawn from such scriptures as Matt. 26:28 (where Jesus died for ‘many'); John 10:11, 15 (which says that Jesus died for the sheep -- not the goats, cf Matt. 25:32-33); John 17:9 (where Jesus in prayer interceded for the ones given Him, not those of the entire world); Acts 20:28 and Eph. 5:25-27  (which state that the Church was purchased by Christ, not all people); and Isaiah 53:12 (which is a prophecy of Jesus’ crucifixion where he would bore the sins of many- not all).

The problem that many people have is their deep and honest concern about sincere adherents of non-Christian faiths.  At a time when Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, as well as other non-Christian friends work and live beside us each day, something would be very wrong with us if we did not feel such concern.

However, the Word, exegeted rationally (without reading into it) tells us that the Christian faith is true for everybody, and that all need God’s forgiveness and rescue from the power of sin and Satan.  In the New Testament all are called to turn to Jesus Christ and become God’s adopted children.  Eternal life comes only to those who do this.

A common argument is: “what if?” What if God, in His infinite mercy, does allow for other ways to come to salvation?  The answer to that is simply, He certainly does not reveal that to us in Scripture.  This matters because we hold Scripture to be the inspired, inerrant and infallible Word of God.  If that “what if” was operant, we would read it in His Word.

Despite that truth, some insist on pursuing unbiblical lines of speculation.  Two primary lines come to mind.

First is “universalism.”  This is a not uncommon belief that -- regardless of the New Testament witness to the contrary -- God will somehow bring all, even those who die as nonbelievers -- to share the inheritance of those who die living in Christ.  Adherents of Universalism  cannot explain how this will happen and there is no scriptural support for such a contention.  Therefore, universalism raises at least two questions.

Q1: When Jesus and the apostles warned people of eternal loss if they did not repent (Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 26:16-20), were they bluffing?

Q2:  Do we know more about God’s purpose of grace than He and they knew?

The second speculation is called “inclusivism.” This position argues the possibility of salvation for sincere devotees of other faiths in which Jesus Christ is either unknown or is rejected as divine Savior simply on the basis of their sincerity.  I would remind you that it is quite common to be “sincerely mistaken.”   Again, on what biblical basis might this possibility stand?  Definitely not on sincerity, or devotion or personal merit. Nor can it be based on any intrinsic effectiveness of unchristian rituals.  On what then would such an “inclusive” belief be based?  

Some say that if non-Christians come to know their guilt and sinfulness and then confess, renounce their sins and ask for mercy from whatever gods there may be, they will receive the forgiveness they seek from the Jesus and then they will know Him.  Again there is no scriptural support for this false hope.

The Gospel speaks only of penitents being saved through the grace of God by knowing and coming to trust, the crucified and risen Lord.  Scripture nowhere offers hope that sincere worshippers of other religions will be saved by faith in false gods.

So, if you struggle with this, what is YOUR role?  That is simple.  You and I aree not in the salvation business.  That is God in Christ’s role.  Your job and my job is the proclamation of Gospel truth by word and deed.  We sow the seeds, God brings them to harvest – as He has already determined.

Pastor Jim

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

How You Can Help Haiti


Friends, as you know Haiti was once again hit with a devastating act of nature with Hurricane Matthew. Over 800 people were killed by the storm and countless citizens impacted severely. If you are able and willing to help, please consider one of these charities below:

Compassion International

World Vision

Upstream International

Paulos Group

Thank you and God bless,
Rev. Michelle

"But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth." 1 John 3:17-18