Sunday, March 30, 2008




Here is the instruction of our day, Just listen to Jesus. Don’t’ muddy your mind with doctrine. Don’t mix peoples’ minds up with doctrine. Get the young people (real young) saved before they can be confused with doctrine. Recently a person was removed from his church. The complaint was that soon he would be reading the words written in black. We just follow Jesus, the words written in red. Doctrine not allowed here.

Here is instruction from Scripture, Deut. 4:9 "Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren." Note: there is no reference to teaching children or grandchildren in the context of the culture.

This is what the Bible has to say about doctrine:

Gen. 49:2 “Gather together and hear, you sons of Jacob,
And listen to Israel your father.

Prov. 4:1 Hear, my children, the instruction of a father,
And give attention to know understanding;
Prov. 4:2 For I give you good doctrine:
Do not forsake my law.

Old Testament stuff you say, That’s for them of old times. I don’t think so.

John 7:16 ¶ Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me.
John 7:17 If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.

1Tim. 4:6 ¶ If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.

Titus 2:1 But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine:

Note: Scripture mentions proper and sound doctrine, a warning I say against doctrine that is unsound. The lack of teaching doctrine is among that of unsound doctrine. Note above, the definition of doctrine i.e. A particular principal position or policy taught.. Yes failure to teach doctrine is bad and unsound doctrine.

Ken Clouse

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Theology is Relevant

Relevance is a popular buzzword today in Christianity. So important is relevance, we are taught that the cardinal sin in preaching today is being irrelevant. It no longer matters if a sermon is biblically or theologically accurate. Relevancy is the sole standard for measuring the quality of a sermon.

Nothing is thought by our contemporary world to be more irrelevant than theology. This is why it was no surprise to read Charles Swindoll say that debating the meaning of grace is an alternative for “[t]hose who aren’t comfortable denying it.” Moreover, he states, “Grace was meant to be received and lived out to the fullest, not dissected and analyzed by those who would rather argue than eat…It’s time for grace to be awakened and released…to be enjoyed and freely given, not debated. ” [1]He even implies that the Protestant Reformation made this same mistake debating grace and not living it out. The bottom line it seems for Swindoll and too many others is theology engenders debate, and it keeps believers from living out their faith making theology irrelevant because it is impractical.

The problem with this idea that theology is irrelevant because it is impractical is that one’s practice must be built on a solid theological foundation, or he will go astray in his practice. For example, if one has a theologically low view of sin, he will tolerate sin in his practical life. Another example, if one is a theological universalist, he will not practice evangelism. (Why go through all the trouble if every one will be saved in the end regardless of what you do?) The examples could be multiplied endlessly, but these should suffice to prove the point that practical living must be based on solid theological thinking.

Kistler understands the practical relevance of theology. He argues, “We will not live any better than our theology; we may not live as well as our theology, but we will never live any better.” [2] If Kistler is correct, then theology is more relevant than the practical aspects of Christianity because in order to practice correctly we have to think correctly about God, which is in reality that with which theology is concerned.

Correct theology is the foundation for correct living. Consequently, one must give every effort to make certain that his theology is correct. Unfortunately, as fallible humans, we often fail to see the fallacies in our own thinking. One way to refine one’s thinking and uncover blind spots in thinking is debate. “Monologues seldom produce refined thought,” argues Geisler in his evaluation of atheism. He continues, “Without atheists, theists would lack significant opposition with which to dialogue and clarify their concepts of God.” [3] Debate or dialogue is an important tool for a theologian to sharpen his thinking. If believers rule out debate altogether, theological thinking will lack clarity and practically living out one’s faith will suffer as a result.

I am not suggesting that theological debate should be a Christian’s only concern, for truth must be lived out. I am suggesting, however, a balance. Believers should concern themselves with both theology and practical Christian living. Both are relevant, and these are not mutually exclusive concepts. Far from it, they are actually dependant on each other. Let us make every effort to pursue both correct thinking and correct living.

Pastor Jeremy Lee
Twining Baptist Church

[1] Swindoll, Charles R. The Grace Awakening Devotional A Thirty- Day Walk in the Freedom of Grace. (W Publishing Group 2003) pgs 1-2.
[3] Geisler, Norman L. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. (Baker 1999) p. 58.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Redemption Accomplished...for You?

As we give special focus this coming weekend to the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, I want to briefly consider what He actually accomplished when He willingly suffered and died in our place as sinners.


Galatians 3:13, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.” Who is “us”? Verse 14, those who by faith receive Christ Jesus and the promised Holy Spirit. Christ accomplished their redemption on the cross once and for all.

1 Corinthians 6:20, “For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” Who are the “you” who have been redeemed by Christ? Verse 19, those whose body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 1:2, the church of God, those set apart in Christ Jesus and called to be holy).

2. PROPITIATION (satisfying the holy wrath of God upon us as sinners)

1 John 2:2, “and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” Jesus accomplished the propitiation for the sins of His people, Jews AND Gentiles! “Our sins” could refer to the believers in Asia Minor, present believers in the 1st century, or Jewish believers (or a blend of those); “sins of the whole world” thus would refer to the believers from areas outside of Asia Minor, all believers (past, present and future), or Gentile believers (or a blend of those). “World” refers to the world in general, people from every nation and tongue. This cannot mean every individual. Just consider the way John uses “world” throughout the whole letter (23 times, mostly in reference to the world system and philosophies; six times in reference to people, none of which can possibly mean every individual—but the world in a general sense; e.g. see 1 John 5:19). We use “world” in this sense as well, such as the United Nations saying, “Our efforts have benefited the whole world.”

Did Jesus propitiate (satisfy God’s wrath) on behalf of every individual? Unless we deny Scripture, eternal hell is a reality (a destination we ALL deserve as sinners), and many are there and are headed there. If Jesus is their propitiation, a just God could not condemn them! Did Jesus die on behalf of, in the place of, those who are in hell? If so, we have an unjust God. Someone may respond, “Well, they didn’t believe in Christ, so it wasn’t applied to them.” And that gets down to the real issue here: WHAT DID CHRIST ACTUALLY ACCOMPLISH ON THE CROSS? Did He die to actually accomplish and secure salvation on behalf of a chosen people (chosen by His free grace, objects of His mercy)? Or did He die to just make salvation possible and really didn’t redeem anyone? Does our salvation turn and depend on the hinge of our will (which is in bondage to our sin nature) or on the hinge of the free and gracious will of God? (See John 1:12-13 and James 1:18.)


2 Corinthians 5:18-21, “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (again, this cannot be referring to every individual, but to the “world” of believers, a multitude from every nation and tongue whom the Father mercifully chose and the Son died for and the Spirit worked effectually to bring to repentance and faith—through the means of His people faithfully preaching the word – note…), “and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (Note that the “our” in the first half of verse 21 must be the “we” in the second half who actually are credited/imputed with the righteousness of God.)

Let us all remember that this all happened, verse 18, “THROUGH CHRIST.” Reconciliation thus flows out of redemption and propitiation. If I have been set free from bondage to sin, if Christ has satisfied the wrath of God on my behalf, then the way has been opened for me to be reconciled with God. As 2 Corinthians 6:2 goes on to say, “now is the day of salvation.” Come to Christ! As the Scriptures say, “Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat.” (Isaiah 55:1)

C.H. Spurgeon gives us a good illustration here. “Come to Christ just as you, without money and without price. He will give you what you need; He will provide all that you lack. Think of the public drinking fountains at the corners of our streets; we can hardly imagine anyone so foolish as to feel for his purse and cry, ‘I cannot drink because I haven’t five pounds in my pocket.’ However poor the man is, there is the fountain, and just as he is, he may drink of it. Thirsty passengers, as they go by, whether they are dressed in fine satin or in rags, don’t consider their worthiness to be able to drink there. Perhaps the ones who go thirsty through the street where there’s a drinking fountain are the fine ladies and gentlemen in their fine carriages. They are very thirsty, but cannot think of humbling themselves to get out to drink. It would demean them, they think, to drink at a common drinking fountain. So they ride by with parched lips. Oh, how many there are who are rich in their own good works and do not come empty-handed & humbly to Christ! ‘I will not be saved,’ they say, ‘in the same way as the adulterer or thieves. What! Go to heaven in the same way as a chimney sweep?’ Such proud, self-deceived boasters remain without the living water. But the fountain of the gospel continues to flow…‘whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.’”

Jeff Ryan
Calvary Bible Church, Rogers City, MI

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

God Delights to Save Sinners

The words “Touchdown Steelers!!!” get me excited every time I hear them. I love the Steelers. Whenever they win, I am pleased, and I quite often celebrate their success by jumping around and hollering. The things we enjoy cause us great delight.

Luke 15:1-7 tells us that the cause of delight in heaven is repentance. In fact, Jesus tells us that heaven strikes up the band at the repentance of one individual. The celebration is contrasted with the implied silence in heaven over the existence of 99 righteous persons. One may think this odd considering that 1 Samuel 15:22 tells us that “to obey is better than sacrifice.” And since sin is disobedience, one would think that God would celebrate the existence of 99 righteous persons who have no need of repentance rather than one disobedient sinner’s repentance.

However, the Bible teaches that no person except Christ is truly righteous. Consequently, these 99 righteous persons are persons who either do not recognize or ignore their unrighteousness and need of repentance. The silence in heaven should not lead one to think that God is apathetic over those who think of themselves more highly than they ought to. Far from being apathetic, God is full of anger towards the unrepentant.

“But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Romans 2:5 NKJV).

God loathes the self-righteousness of the unrepentant because their actions demonstrate their belief that they can achieve God’s righteousness on their own. They refuse to understand the absolute holiness of God and the depravity of their own hearts. Thus, the unrepentant “righteous” persons lower God to their level and exalt themselves above God.

In contrast to God’s attitude towards the 99 unrepentant “righteous” persons, Jesus insists that God celebrates over one sinner’s repentance. He celebrates at the repentance of one sinner because he delights to save sinners. Repentance is a gift of kindness from God, which leads to salvation (Romans 2:4); thus, he loves repentance because it is the means of bringing sinners to salvation. God’s delight in saving sinners is further proven in biblical texts that express his desire for the repentance and salvation of all mankind.

“Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4 NKJV).

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance(2 Peter 3:9 NKJV).

Moreover, this is why later in Luke Jesus commands the apostles to preach “repentance for forgiveness of sins…in his name to all the nations” (Luke 24:47 NASB). God delights to save sinners.

When God saved us, we did not have to twist his arm. He did not see us coming and say, “Oh brother, not him.” God saved us because saving sinners is what he loves to do. God did not save us because we are so wonderful he could not live without us. We are sinners who spurn God at every opportunity we get. He saved us for his own purpose and because that is what he likes to do.

Since God delights to save sinners by bringing them to repentance, we ought to cooperate with God in his purpose to save sinners. As repentant sinners, we should preach the gospel and call fellow sinners to repentance and faith in Christ. If God loves repentance, how much would he love the preaching of repentance?

All of heaven and most importantly God celebrates over the repentance of one sinner. Let’s be thankful that God delighted to save us and seek to cause celebrations in heaven by preaching “repentance for forgiveness of sins.”

Pastor Jeremy Lee
Twining Baptist Church

Monday, March 3, 2008


We hear alot about freedom these days. Our military troops are fighting on foreign soil in order for us in America to continue to have freedom. We hear about freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from responsibilities, etc.

What do we mean by freedom? Freedom means different things to different people and the word freedom is hard to define, isn't it?

Allow me to spend a few minutes with you sharing what it means to have inner freedom. When we talk about inner freedom something deep inside us resonates a big YES! But there is something that holds us back. The Book of Galatians reveals why we struggle so much. The purpose of Galatians is clear: to get Christians out from under the law and into freedom in Christ, to have the Spirit replace the Torah in our lives.

Living under the law is being controlled by anything other than the Spirit of God but freedom in Christ means freedom to produce the fruits of righteousness through a Spirit-led lifestyle.
The Book of Galatians was written to refute the Judaizers gross misunderstanding of justification by faith. Sin separates us from a holy God and the only way we can be united with God is to have those sins forgiven, and the only way that can take place is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, God's son (I Peter 3:18).

The Judaizers agree with that essential of faith, but, they said there was more and that included following the Jewish law of circumcision. So, what is being said is, that salvation is accepting Christ as Savior and Lord plus circumcision. WRONG! That is semi-palagianism.
Galatians wants us to understand that salvation is in Christ alone (solus Christus), through grace alone (sola gratia), by faith alone (sola fide)plus NOTHING. If we add anything to the grace of God (the gospel) we nullify the gospel (Galatians 2:20-21).

Do not nullify the grace of God in your own life by your daily thinking and practices. Christ died for you and for the purpose of saving you from God's wrath and making you his child. Do not add to something already complete in Christ! Remember, you have died and your life is hidden with God in Christ and you have been seated with him in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:5-8; Colossians 3:1-4). Freedom is God's idea not ours.

Rev. Charles Sheldon
Assistant pastor
Grace Community Church-EPC