There’s a lot of stuff going on at SKRBC, and here is some of it:

News

The teens just returned from the Teen Leadership Conference, and will tell us all about it – probably on 13 January.

Easter is on 21 April, and we’re going to do an evangelistic outreach for this event. I don’t know what it is, yet, but it’ll happen.

We’ll be looking into purchasing a digital sign we can put beside the road. It’ll allow us to put nifty sayings (e.g. Darth Vader: “I find your lack of faith disturbing …”), Bible quotes, the Gospel, and event announcements on the sign. Many, many people drive down that road every day, and it’d be nice to have a good way to communicate to them. We’ll keep y’all posted …

Starla and I visited Ken Lockmiller at the hospital on Sunday afternoon. He hopes to be moved to Panorama soon, to begin rehab. Please prayer he’ll have the strength to do that. He told his amazing story about the Apollo 11 astronauts.

The Sanctity of Human Life Day

On 20 January, in honor of the National Sanctity of Human Life Day, our church will focus on a truly horrifying injustice – abortion. This won’t be a political statement or a political event. These days, it’s trendy to filter everything though a partisan political lens. Blind, unthinking partisanship to any political ideology is a terrible mistake. The only ideology a Christian ought to be behind 100% is God’s ideology, as revealed in His word. If you’re a Christian, you’re one of His people, part of His nation, a priest who represents Him to the world (1 Peter 2:9-10).

No, our focus on 20 January will be a moral statement, based on God’s Word, about how precious human life is. The fact that this largely lines up with the Republican Party platform is meaningless to me. The fact that it reflects God’s concept of the preciousness of human life does matter to me.

Debbie Ewald, who spent many years with Care Net, will be posting an article on the church website about this issue. I’ll also be posting some articles and videos in the next few weeks, leading up to 20 January. The sermon on that day will show, from God’s word, how sacred and special human life is – and why Christians should be concerned with this issue.

And, perhaps the most important thing is the sermon will do is emphasize that God forgives. No matter who are or what you’ve done, Christ has room for you. If you come to Him, confess your sins and believe in who He is and what He’s done, then He will forgive you. God can wash you clean and forgive you of any sin – even the sin of abortion.

Free Book!

I’ll be giving out a book to somebody every month. Last month, it was How Can We Trust the Gospels? by Peter J. Williams. This month, it’ll be Witnessing Without Fear: How to Share Your Faith with Confidence by Bill Bright. This is a simple, uncomplicated and really encouraging book about how to share your faith. Here’s an excerpt:

If I could show you how to share your faith successfully, and with confidence … without alienating others or becoming someone you really don’t want to be, would you be interested?

Witnessing for our Lord is something we all know we should do. From the pulpit on Sunday mornings we hear that we should ‘spread the Word in the marketplace.’ In our Christian magazines and books we read that our neighbors are hungry for the Gospel – in fact, are dying without Jesus Christ. In God’s Word we read the command of Jesus Himself to ‘Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature …’

Yet, witnessing is an activity we frequently shrink from. To intrude into someone’s life seems not only threatening but blatantly presumptuous. We fear offending the other person, fear being rejected, fear doing an inadequate job of representing our Lord and even being branded a ‘fanatic.’

So we remain silent, and pray that God will use someone else to get His message to those around us who do not know Him.

If you, too, have struggled with these fears, I have good news for you!

Christians just like you, from all walks of life, are learning how to share their faith in Christ effectively. Let me tell you abut just a few of them …

Bill Bright, Witnessing Without Fear (Nashville: Nelson, 1993), 13-14

What an encouragement! I think any Christian will be a better evangelist if she reads this book.

Yesterday, I did a short article about another nifty book I’ll be giving away in the next few months. Check it out, and throw your name into the drawing when the time comes!

Doctrinal Statement

We’ll have a church meeting on 27 January to chat about the proposed revisions to the doctrinal statement. As I’ve said before, I want to have a conversation about the church’s doctrine. I want to hear your questions and comments. Above all, I want to make sure the doctrinal statement reflects what our congregation believes the Bible teaches.

Feel free to call, text, email or chat with me about anything leading up to the meeting. After the meeting, we’ll probably re-work a few things in light of the discussions, and come back to revisit the issue in the Spring.

But, for now, I’ll continue my brief explanation about the proposed changes!

Resurrection and Priesthood of Christ

We want to delete this statement, because it’s covered pretty thoroughly in the new section about Christ. Remember, our doctrinal statement (as it stands now) doesn’t have anything specifically about Christ – it has random things scattered here and there. The proposed revision fixes that, which means this standalone section about Christ’s resurrection and His priesthood can go away.

Harmony between Law and Gospel

This is a new addition, and it explains a bit about how the legal requirements of the Law interact with the Good News Jesus brought. Basically, because we can’t be perfect, Jesus was perfect for us. Here’s what it says:

We believe that the Law of God is the eternal and unchangeable rule of his moral government;

The law (that is, the Old Covenant commands) teaches us how He wants us to act, how He wants us to live, and what we ought to think about Him. Of course, the outward form of God’s worship has changed (we don’t sacrifice bulls on Sunday!), but the Law tells us what He wants from us.

that it is holy, just, and good; and that the inability which the Scriptures ascribe to fallen men to fulfill its precepts arises entirely from their love of sin;

We’re sinners, so we can’t do what the law says. We always mess things up, and an Old Covenant believer figured that out pretty quickly when had to always bring another sacrifice to atone for more sins, week after week, month after month, year after year! God has a standard, but nobody can meet it, which means we have a problem!

to deliver them from which, and to restore them through a Mediator to unfeigned obedience to the holy Law, is one great end of the Gospel, and of the means of grace connected with the establishment of the visible Church

The Gospel changes all that. Jesus had perfect obedience to the Law, in your place. He died for your crimes, in your place. Because Jesus did this, if you repent and believe in Him you’ll be restored to a right relationship with Him!

The Old Covenant law complements the Gospel, and there’s been a lot of bad teaching on this subject. When you think about the law, realize it does three things, and they complement each other:

  1. It leads us to Christ. God says this, but I always do that, which means there’s something wrong with me! The Law is like a mirror; it shows us who we really are, which means it lets us know we need a divine intervention from Jesus.
  2. It strikes fear into unbeliever’s hearts, and constrains general wickedness. The Law is the written expression of that inward fear, that inner dread that all men and women have – “I’ll have to answer for this one day, won’t I?” Because people know God has a Law, and they know where it can be found (whether they ever read it or not), it curbs sin and wickedness. It’s the same way with secular laws. People are more apt to behave if they know they’ll be punished for bad behavior. It doesn’t matter if they respect the police; but most people do fear them for the “law and order” they represent. It’s the same with God’s Law, but in a much more serious way.
  3. The Law (along with all Scripture) teaches Christians how to love God. We read the Bible, the Spirit works in our hearts and minds, and we’re driven to conform ourselves to Christ that much more. We read Psalm 119, and we think, “I ought to read my Bible more, and love God’s word like the psalmist did!” We read Deuteronomy 6, and we think, “I ought to take better charge of my children’s spiritual life!” We read Leviticus, and we think, “Man, that’s a lot of sacrifices! That’s a lot of sin to atone for! How could the Israelites miss that object lesson when Christ came! Maybe I ought to take my own sin more seriously …”

The point of this new section on the harmony of the Law and the Gospel is just that – they’re harmonious. The Law is a schoolmaster to take sinners by the hand and bring them to Christ. When Christ came, Law handed the baton off to Jesus. Sinners still come to Jesus because the Law condemns them. It’s the most basic distillation of the Gospel; “you’re a bad person and you do bad things, God is angry with you and will punish you, but because He loves you, there’s someone who’s already taken care of all that!” Law points us to the Gospel for salvation, and for spiritual growth throughout the Christian life, too!