This We Believe: Last Things



This We Believe: Last Things

As a kid, I remember hearing mother talk about reading The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey. They made the book into a movie narrated by Orson Welles. I watched the movie and felt terror at the idea that the world as we know it was going to end. The view presented by Lindsey was classic dispensationalism and historic pre-millennialism. Later Tim LaHaye continued this view writing his series Left Behind. Both works are fictional, but based upon theological viewpoints I would contend the culture at large assumes they represent the only Christian view of the end times.  

Over the past two months, we have examined our beliefs and basic doctrines in preparation for approving an updated Statement of Faith. The last portion of doctrine to be included is our doctrine of Last Things, or end times. There are many doctrines we believe and hold dear which are clearly and easily defined or described in the Scriptures. What we believe about Jesus Christ from the virgin birth to His death and resurrection are unmistakably plain and evident to the reader. The doctrines of the Holy Spirit, God the Father, the Trinity, the Scriptures, the church, the ordinances, humanity, the atonement, salvation, and resurrection are plain and generally agreed upon among Bible-believing churches. The doctrine of Last Things offers the biggest challenge in understanding what truly is to come. Today we will examine our position, which includes the common truths accepted across a broad spectrum of Christian belief, and we will also look at the varying positions which have been predominant in the church.    

My hope is our study of Last Things will not give you all the information you need to debate a position, but will stir the longing in your soul for Christ’s return. I hope that stirring will drive you to the Word and to prayer. I am not going to give you a specific timeline of events because no one truly knows. We will briefly mention various historically held views of end times, but this will certainly not be comprehensive.

Historically the Pre-Millennial, Pre-Tribulation view has been taught at Calvary. This view may in fact be completely accurate. However, as one digs deeply into the text of Scripture, a clear timeline of End Times events cannot be plainly established. We have reworded our doctrinal statement in a manner which does not exclude this particular view, but is also gracious to other views which have just as much Scriptural grounding and historical support. We have included only those ideas where the Scriptures leave no doubt.

This We Believe: The Church and The Ordinances




This We Believe: The Church and The Ordinances

Today we continue our overview of doctrine with the topic of the church and its ordinances.  When it comes to these doctrines, we are different than many denominations. There are some who don’t believe that the rite of baptism is important and don’t practice it and others believe who baptism is required for salvation. Still others agree with us that baptism is symbolic of what Christ has done, but their mode is different (sprinkle water vs immersion).

This We Believe: Humanity And Atonement




This We Believe: Humanity And Atonement

We believe humans were created by God in His own image as perfect, holy, and upright, able to keep God’s law, yet liable to fall. As the representative of the human race, Adam freely chose to disobey God, thereby plunging humanity into the death of sin, thus all men are now sinners by nature and practice, deserving eternal condemnation and unable to rescue themselves apart from God’s free and sovereign grace through the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe God created humans as male and female and ordained marriage to be a lifelong covenant between one man and one woman. Genesis 1:26-27 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

 

It is a very good thing that God created us after His image; it would seem that God places a great deal of importance on us because He created us after His likeness. He created us in a manner that is different than that of animals and that of the angels. While we don’t have a scriptural definition of what God means when He says that He created man in His image, there are some things that we can point out as possibilities

This We Believe: The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit



This We Believe: The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Last Sunday we began our study with the Bible. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to us. The big story of the Bible is Creation, the Fall, Redemption and Restoration. The entire story is written, superintended and sustained by a sovereign God.

 

As we continue This We Believe, we need to remember that just because we do not understand something does not make it untrue. The questions before us today are “Who is God?” and “How has He revealed Himself to us in the Scriptures?”

This We Believe: The Bible



This We Believe: The Bible

In an age where truth is continually assaulted, it is more important than ever for the church to know and embrace what she believes. Our doctrinal statement does not contain every detail of our beliefs, but it is intended to communicate the core truths which bind us together as the Body of Christ.

We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments in the original manuscripts, though written by human authors, were breathed out by God, and are therefore authoritative, inerrant, and sufficient, containing all things necessary to be known and believed for salvation, life, and godliness. 2 Peter 1:19–21 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Living as the Church: Prayer for Ministry



Living as the Church: Prayer in Ministry

As we continue in our study of this letter by Paul to Thessalonica, we come to Chapter 3 where Paul starts by saying “Finally.” What this teaches us is that when a preacher says that word, and they continue on for quite a while, it’s biblical! Our text for today is the first five verses, where we find the following:

1.    Prayer request of Paul

2.    Faithless fellows who fight against the faithful

3.    The faithfulness of God

4.    The protection of God

5.    Obedient believers’ blessings

 

Unfortunately, or fortunately, time does not allow the opportunity to address each of these topics fully. As you can imagine, both The Faithfulness of God and The Protection of God could be their own series. But from this text I want to unpack:

1.    The verses that address prayer for the Apostle Paul

2.    The distinct differences between the Apostle Paul and those who are NOT of faith. 

The Apostle Paul was not shy about asking for prayer. Paul often asked other Christians to pray for him.

Living as the Church: End Times Error



Living as the Church: End Times Error

If a person has the wrong view of history, they will invariably have an incorrect world view.  For instance, if you believe that we are all the product of evolution, completely apart from God’s creative design, you will have a different moral compass than a person who believes that God has fearfully and wonderfully created us for a specific purpose.  One person could view human history as an endless cycle of repeating events that are summed up in what we call the rise and fall of world empires; another person may view the history of man as random events with no meaning and headed towards oblivion.  You likely know someone who views the world this way; where all events are pointless and have no meaningful consequences.

Without belaboring the point, most of us can see how our view of the past will have an impact on how we make decisions and live our life.  An incorrect view will lead to incorrect decisions and a wasted life.  The way we view the past extends to and colors our view of the future.  A person who believes all past events are random will extend randomness and meaninglessness to all future events.  In their view, the life of a fly would have as much meaning as that of a person.  On the other hand, a person who sees the past as God revealing Himself through historical events will likely understand that God is a God of Judgement, Mercy, and Grace and will know that future events will be handled in a way consistent with God’s attributes.  Everything that you learn about God from history as presented in the Bible can (and should) be applied to current events as well as future events.

Through Gospel-Colored Lenses


Through Gospel-Colored Lens

 

Our experiences, upbringing, traditions and context affect the way we see and understand life. This morning we’re going to talk about these as “lenses” through which we view the world. The lens you view life through affects what you see and how you understand it.

Have you seen that commercial advertising those glasses with the yellow tint that help you basically see in the dark? They change the way you see your surroundings. Sunglasses change the way you see things around you. We want sunglasses when the sun is shining brightly through our windshield, or beating down on you at the beach, but when the sun has gone down and it’s dark, sunglasses become much less helpful. They change the way you see your surroundings. Prescription eyeglasses change the way you see things around you. If you have poor vision and you’re NOT wearing your contact lenses or eyeglasses, you’re really going to struggle to see things clearly.

Today, I want to make the point that if you claim to follow Jesus Christ, the Gospel must be the lens through which you view the world. We must see through Gospel-colored lenses. The Gospel affects (or, at least, ought to affect!) the way we see and understand and engage with everything and everyone in this world. The Gospel changes everything.


STEWARDSHIP: Talents

STEWARDSHIP: Talents full sermon manuscript

STEWARDSHIP: Talents

Matthew 25:14-30

July 29, 2018

Pastor Ben Marshall

There was a master, a boss, who went on a journey and entrusted a certain amount of money, or talents, to three different servants (a talent was worth about twenty years’ wages for a day laborer). Remember, this is a parable. The master was Jesus, and the journey the master went on was the time between when Jesus walked on the earth and when He will return to the earth. The master knew the three servants well, and they were seen as professing believers in Jesus Christ.

The passage says, at the end of verse 15, to each according to his ability. The master knew his servants and gave to each one of them according to their ability to handle the talent or talents he had given them. In the same way, God knows you better than you know yourself. He has entrusted you with the proper measure of responsibility according to your ability.[1] The point of this parable is not the amount of talents each servant has (but isn’t that so often what we focus on? That comparison game is deadly, paralyzing, and sinful). The point is this: “What are you doing with the responsibility you’ve been given?” We’ve been given gifts and abilities. We have passion points and things we get geeked up about. How are we using those things deeply wired into us for the glory of God?

The point of the message today is this: God gifted you to glorify Himself. When He returns, be found being faithful stewards of what He has gifted you with.

What talents has God blessed you with? What are you most passionate about? Use that for the glory of God.    

How are you using the talents with which God has blessed you? How should/could you use them for the glory of God and the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?    

For whom are you using your talents? Whose Kingdom are you trying to build? (Colossians 3:17, 23-24).

If Christ were to return one minute from now, would He find that you have been faithful with the treasure, time, testimony, troubles, and talents with which He has blessed you? If yes, keep it up! Don’t grow weary in doing good! If no, not sure, maybe—step up! Realize you will give a reckoning for the way you have lived out your faith. You will give an account for your faithfulness or faithlessness to the gifts God has given you.

Take a risk. Use your talent. Do what God has given you a passion for. The first two servants we read about didn’t just use part of what they had been given—they were all in! They fully used all God had blessed them with and didn’t hold back. That’s risky!

I believe when God gives us a passion (that lines up with Scripture and furthers the Kingdom of God), He is sharing a piece of His heart, what He cares about, with us and empowering us to be His hands and feet and mouthpiece here on earth through the power of the Holy Spirit. Where has the Father broken your heart for what breaks His? Get after it and use your talents for His glory. Remember, God gifted you to glorify Himself. Be found being faithful stewards of God’s blessings.   

 

[1] “God knows intimately the abilities, gifts, opportunities, and circumstances of every person, and He graciously assigns responsibilities accordingly.” (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 24-28, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1989), 100).

STEWARDSHIP: Testimony

Today we continue our Stewardship series talking about our testimony. A testimony is the story of our faith and life. When we talk about stewardship of our testimony, we are going to focus on three parts: the testimony of our salvation, the testimony of our sanctification, and the testimony of our reputation.

There are three questions we can ask, one with each of the three parts. We can ask, "How did I meet God?" regarding our testimony of salvation; "What is the Lord doing in my life today?" regarding our testimony of sanctification; and "What do people think of Christ when they look at my life?" regarding the testimony of our reputation.

STEWARDSHIP: Time

Stewardship of Time full sermon manuscript

STEWARDSHIP: Time

Assorted Passages

July 1, 2018

Pastor Ben Marshall

 

Time. Time is one of those things we are not sure what to do with. It’s often one of the things that we wish we had more of, because the task list is always longer than the hour we have.

Have you ever wished you had more time to get done the things you needed to get done?

We are overworked and underrested. We are an exhausted people.

We must no longer brag about not keeping the Sabbath, proclaiming to all how busy and full our schedule is. Instead, we must remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. If we believe "God alone is sovereign, and the Bible is His inspired Word and the final authority for my life,” we must take seriously what the Bible says about work and what the Bible says about Sabbath rest.

The Sabbath rest (literally meaning to rest from labor), was instituted before sin entered the world. God wove rest into the very fabric of Creation. God also wove work into the very fabric of Creation. Both were commanded before the Ten Commandments and even before sin entered the world.

Work is good, and rest is good.But, work without rest is not good, and rest without work is not good. The main point of this message is: "You have too much to do to not rest."

Genesis 2:1-3, Exodus 20:8-11, Exodus 31:12,17 reveal the institution of the Sabbath and the remembrance and commanding of Sabbath-keeping from God to the Israelites.

Matthew 9:38, 12:8 and Mark 2:27-28 reveal that Jesus renews this Sabbath-keeping covenant, and is Himself the lord of the Sabbath and the lord of the Harvest (work).

Sabbath isn’t a rest from every possible thing that could be considered work. It is a rest from the kind of normal work and activity that the other six days of the week are given to. 

If you don't choose to rest, the decision will be made for you.

There will always be excuses. There will always be more on the to-do list. One author wrote: “Sabbath is not the break we’re allotted at the tail end of completing all our tasks and chores, the fulfillment of all our obligations. It’s the rest we take smack-dab in the middle of them, without apology, without guilt, and for no better reason than God told us we could.”[1]

 

[1] Mark Buchanan, in A.J. Swoboda’s Subversive Sabbath, 36.