The Eagle Cries the Thrice-Told Woe: Judgment Comes on the United States

I grew up in a time where preachers preached about the judgment of our nation on a weekly basis. After a while, that type of preaching turned into white noise, and was replaced by how loving God is and has a great plan for your life. Do we have to discard the former while affirming the latter?

Last night, I taught from Revelation 8:6-13. Verse 13 was especially troubling:

“Then I looked, and I heard an eagle crying with a loud voice as it flew directly overhead, ‘Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets that the three angels are about to blow!'”

This takes place in the portion of the revealing on the seven trumpet judgments unleashed from heaven on the earth toward those who stood against God, His Word, and His people. He promised in Revelation 7 that He would seal His people from being swept away by His wrath as He unleashed the judgments on the earth. Good thing!

In Revelation 8:6-12, we see that the judgments unleashed would affect land, sea, rivers, springs, and the heavens (the light that emanates from the sun, moon, and stars). They would lose their sustenance–and that’s only the beginning!

But Revelation 8:13! When something is spoken three times in succession, this means the ultimate superlative of what’s spoken. “Holy, holy, holy” means “holiest, none holier.” So, this eagle swoops down crying out, “Woe, woe, woe!” This deals with judgment, damnation, and devastation–in this case, toward those who, again, stand against God, His Word, and His people.

I now understand those old-timey preachers! Given all that Romans 1:18-32 says about judgment comes, and will be revealed as unhinged sexual promiscuity, a confusion of gender roles, and overall rebellion to the fullest measure–and approval of those who practice such things, it’s becoming more and more clear that God’s judgment is upon us.

Yes, it’s here. And those who stand against this new cultural orthodoxy will stand against the majority in our culture who will work to silence us in every way–even as they know what Scripture says regarding such matters that our culture champions. Even those who occupy seats in the highest positions in our country are clearly and confidently shaking their fist at what God has said in Scripture, and sought to redefine all aspects of sex, marriage, and family.

The eagle is flying and crying the thrice-told woe. We either stand on the conviction of Scripture, or compromise to the culture.

In the meantime, watch this video of a John MacArthur sermon entitled, “We Will Not Bow Down.” Much needed tonic for discouraged Christians longing to stay true to the Word.

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“You Asked For It Sermon Series” Is Complete–What Did We Learn?

And so yesterday completed the sermon series at ARBC called “You Asked For It” (previously named Summer Playlist).  I can see this being a summer staple in the years to come.  Here are the sermons (complete with links):

  1. What is the Unforgivable Sin?
  2. Why Do We Need Church Plants–Don’t We Have Enough Churches? (Kevin Hasenack of Calvary Church-Littleton preached this)
  3. How Should a Christian Think About War?
  4. How Should Christians Respond to Religious Liberty Attacks?
  5. I Don’t Reconcile Friends:  Predestination and Free Will
  6. What Does the Bible Say About Cremation?
  7. What Does the Bible Say About Speaking in Tongues?
  8. What is God’s Will for My Life?

As I’ve said before, these stand as some industrial strength questions that all of you asked.  What did I/we learn from this?

  1. Many of you have multi-faceted questions about the gospel and about life.
  2. You have a desire to see what the Scriptures say, increasing your assurance in the Bible’s sufficiency.
  3. Of all the sermons, the sermon on cremation generated the most interested.
  4. This gave me a chance to address issues that were/are churning in your hearts.

What were some things you learned from this series?  I’d be very interested to know!

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Before We Debate About the Spiritual Gift of Tongues, How About This…

Amazingly, while many people speak about the gift of tongues, whether they exist or don’t exist, one aspect we tend to forget is how we use the language (i.e., tongue) that God has given us now?

Jump with me to 1 Corinthians 14:23-25:

23 If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? 24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, 25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.

Tongues, Paul says, are a sign for unbelievers.  When Peter, skeptical that God would send his Spirit to all the nations to show them His glory and His work through Jesus, we read in Acts 10:44-47:

44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”

What’s the point? The point is that God used this sign (not the gift, the sign) to show the world that God was moving forward in bringing His message of the Gospel through the Spirit to the whole world.  And, friends, we are the recipient of that.  God used His messengers through the Spirit and the gifts that He bestowed to take the message of the gospel, of which we are a recipient.

Dear Christians, unbelievers will enter into your life and your church.  So how are we using the language God has given to us?  Let me show you how some use them.  In Romans 1:28-32:

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

How many times have we seen Christians come together, and use their tongues not for the purpose of building up believers in the faith, but to tear down other believers and leaders that God has put in their path. Rather than going and speaking directly to the person, they gossip and slander and become insolent, arrogant, boastful!  Many of these sins in place are right up there with the flow of the argument—God giving people over to their desires, their sexual sins.

Alan Redpath calls us to think when it comes to what we’re getting ready to say.  It’s an acronym:

T–Is it true?
H–Is it helpful?
I–Is it inspiring?
N–Is it necessary?
K–Is it kind?

If what I am about to say does not pass those tests, I will keep my mouth shut! And it worked!

But really, it’s not just about what we shouldn’t say, it’s about being clear regarding the person and work of Christ both in private, and in this case in public.  Prophesy and preaching and teaching about Jesus and His death and resurrection as the only hope for the forgiveness of sins and eternal must be crystal clear.  Intelligible.  Distinct.  Do we have that?  When we tell people phrases we’re used to like, “Ask Jesus into your heart” or “Won’t you walk the aisle?”

You see, I fear that many in our churches in America believe that the church exists for them.  The spiritual gifts exist for them.  God in heaven simply exists to meet our needs.  We can only worship if the music is just right, the curriculum is just right, if the money is spent just right.  Do you see what’s happening?  Everything can come down to the fact that many believe that everything exists for them!  But vv 24-25 shatter that.  Clarity about the gospel, about Jesus’ person and work will convict as worked by the Spirit.  We want to be clear to call everyone to repent and believe the gospel as Jesus said.  We want to be clear to our family and friends about the gospel—and that our words and our actions match!

The entire point of 1 Corinthians 14 is that of clarity so that the church would be built up!  Outward love toward others always trumps simply building up oneself, whether it’s speaking in tongues or in any other aspect of our Christian walk. But we all speak in a language–how are we using that for God’s glory and building up the church?

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The Praise of His Glorious Grace

At our Sunday night Connect Group, one participant asked about grace.  I’m thankful she wished to have that glorious term clarified.  She mentioned that the time she usually hears about grace is when it came to something like being graceful in one’s movements.

Spurgeon in his work, All of Grace, pens two beautiful paragraphs on the nature of grace, springboarding from Romans 4:5: “And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness:”  Hear Pastor Spurgeon:

He makes those just who are unjust, forgives those who deserve to be punished, and favors those who deserve no favor. You thought, did you not, that salvation was for the good? that God’s grace was for the pure and holy, who are free from sin? It has fallen into your mind that, if you were excellent, then God would reward you; and you have thought that because you are not worthy, therefore there could be no way of your enjoying His favor. You must be somewhat surprised to read a text like this: “Him that justifieth the ungodly. ” I do not wonder that you are surprised; for with all my familiarity with the great grace of God, I never cease to wonder at it. It does sound surprising, does it not, that it should be possible for a holy God to justify an unholy man? We, according to the natural legality of our hearts, are always talking about our own goodness and our own worthiness, and we stubbornly hold to it that there must be somewhat in us in order to win the notice of God. Now, God, who sees through all deceptions, knows that there is no goodness whatever in us. He says that “there is none righteous, no not one.” He knows that “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags,” and, therefore the Lord Jesus did not come into the world to look after goodness and righteousness with him, and to bestow them upon persons who have none of them. He comes, not because we are just, but to make us so: he justifieth the ungodly.

When a counsellor comes into court, if he is an honest man, he desires to plead the case of an innocent person and justify him before the court from the things which are falsely laid to his charge. It should be the lawyer’s object to justify the innocent person, and he should not attempt to screen the guilty party. It lies not in man’s right nor in man’s power truly to justify the guilty. This is a miracle reserved for the Lord alone. God, the infinitely just Sovereign, knows that there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good and sinneth not, and therefore, in the infinite sovereignty of His divine nature and in the splendor of His ineffable love, He undertakes the task, not so much of justifying the just as of justifying the ungodly. God has devised ways and means of making the ungodly man to stand justly accepted before Him: He has set up a system by which with perfect justice He can treat the guilty as if he had been all his life free from offence, yea, can treat him as if he were wholly free from sin. He justifieth the ungodly.

(Charles H. Spurgeon, All of Grace, the beginning of Chapter 3.)

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His Blessing, His Comfort, His Glory: How Paul Shepherds With God’s Sovereign Purpose

(Below is the manuscript of the sermon preached on July 5, 2015:  “I Never Reconcile Friends: Predestination and Free Will” from Ephesians 1:3-14.  Note: if you listen to the sermon, don’t try to follow along with the manuscript.  Really.  Don’t. Seriously.)

Remember when I said that you all asked major league questions for this Summer Playlist series?  Absolutely!  If you’re a guest with us, about two or three months ago, I asked our people what questions you have of the Bible that you’d like answered.  Here’s what you’ve asked so far:

The next question?  What About Predestination and Free Will?, in which we will look at Ephesians 1:3-14.   If we have free will, how can we be predestined?  If we are predestined, how can we have free will?”

Whenever this conversation takes place, it’s like oil and water as far as how people deal with this.  Those who hold strongly to free will have their verses, and those who hold to predestination have their verses.  We then load it up in our theological gun and shoot them at each other.  For those who are new to the faith, you may wonder, “What in the world are you talking about?”  But for those who may have been in Baptist world for any amount of time know how contentious this topic can be.

But it doesn’t have to be.  A few years ago, I was talking to a pastor of an evangelical church in Trinidad & Tobago who never shied away from preaching on this topic.  I’ll never forget what He said:  “Our people need to see God’s side of salvation as well.”  I never forgot that.  The Father wants us to see that!  Christ explicitly spoke of this.  The Spirit inspired the writers to talk about this.  So let’s not shy away from what God has spoken.  We didn’t last week—nor should we this week.

Turn with me to Ephesians 1:3-14:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insightmaking known[b] to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

We as Americans trumpet freedom.  So when we see that God chooses or predestines or elects, what happens in our hearts when we hear this?  If you’re like most Americans or even Western Europeans, you feel this is God infringing upon your autonomy and upon your freedom.  Yet, other countries who have a monarch and who endure much persecution have little trouble with this doctrine of predestination.

My aim is to show you that the doctrine of predestination is not only biblical, but is necessary for us to have any hope of holiness, comfort, and perseverance.  For the Apostle Paul and all other writers of Scripture, preaching and teaching on this topic was not simply a theological exercise, but a pastoral exhortation.  It extols the sovereignty of God—His rule and reign over all things in His creation—including us. Every part of our spiritual lives revolves around two words:  “in him” or “in Christ.”

Let’s take a look at this and numerous other passages.

The greatest spiritual blessing He gives:  “in Christ.”

Verse 3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”  Paul starts this off with a prayer:  “Blessed be… .”   All prayer is grounded in a belief in the sovereignty of God.

So, before he mentions His choosing or predestinating believers, we reminds us that, through Christ, the Father has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.  Yet, none of those blessings would be possible without the greatest spiritual blessing He gave—His chosen Son, Jesus.  And since God rules and reigns over every molecule, every atom, every electron, He is most able to deliver, even when it seems a tall order.

How did He choose us?  In verse 4, it says:  “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world.”  This speaks to a number of things.  First, we are chosen/predestined in Christ, not in ourselves One, that God did not wait for us to choose Him, but chose us even before we were born—even before the world began.  We even see this in Revelation 13:8 as the beast who would come and many would worship.  But who would worship him?  “And all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.”  God has called out a spiritual blessing in Christ for protection and a maintenance of a witness in the world.

It was not based on our obedience.  Look with me at Deuteronomy 7:7-8:

It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples,but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

It’s not due to numbers.  Were chosen not because of how obedient we were or how many we were.  In fact, that’s where free will comes in.    We were chosen in spite of our disobedience and in spite of our lack of number.  He did this because he resolved before one ray of light broke through the darkness of the universe.  And as we read through the books of Exodus through Deuteronomy, we see that God did not choose them due to their obedience.  Repeatedly, God gave spoke of how “stiffnecked and stubborn” they were, but they remained His people through the covenant He made through Abraham:

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

So us being predestined in Him brings about a great comfort to us.  We are chosen in him, therefore, His calling and choosing are what keeps us.  This is where the free will comes in.  What do we mean by free will?  What we usually mean is that we are autonomous individuals who make our own choices and decisions without any coercion from anyone—even God.  God may nudge, but ultimately it’s our decision.

I believe that’s how we process it.  But we need to turn to the Scriptures and look at Romans 3:9-10:

For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
11     no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”

The Bible tells us three chapters later in Romans 6 that we are either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness.  So if we talk about free will in any sense at all like what was up top, how is our will free?  It’s not.  It’s either coerced by sin and self, or it’s coerced by the Spirit.  Who has free will?  It’s here we find our greatest spiritual comfort.

The greatest spiritual comfort He gives:  “according to the purpose of His will.”

This is first found in verse 5:  “In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will.  What affects God’s will? Nothing at all.  This is a big God we serve, dear Christian!

In James 1:17-18:

17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

God’s nature, will, and his purpose do not change.  He is the only truly free being.   And His will

The next place is in v. 9 where he makes known to us the purpose of His will.  Set forth in Christ as far as how and when the fullness of time would occur.  So God even predestined how long the world would last.  He ordained when he would let us know the fullness of his will through Christ.

Lastly in verse 11:  Then our inheritance that we have obtained because it was “predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.”

So you say, how is this comforting?  In the same way that so many find comfort in Romans 8:28:  “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  That’s right: purpose.  And what’s the purpose?  Romans 8:29-30:

29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Through all of what God intends for us is found in verse 29 that also connects with Ephesians 1:4:  The purpose is to conform us to the image of His Son (the “in him”).  When we go back to Ephesians 1:4: “Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” Through God’s work, he seeks to work in us and move in us.  Even as we are not righteous, not seeking after him, after all of us going astray—God worked before the foundation of the world to set apart a people (holy), to purchase the sins of those people whom God called out, and then the Father by the Spirit moves in us to conform us to the image of His Son! It’s all of grace!  It’s all of God.

  1. The greatest spiritual response we give:  “to the praise of His glorious grace.”

We’ve spent much time talking about God predestining, choosing, and electing.  So am I saying that there’s no need for us to respond?  No, no, and no!  In Ephesians 1:13-14, we read this:

13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

 So much of the NT, we see that when belief and response come, it’s from the work that God already has done in our hearts.

For instance: Jesus said in John 6:37:  “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”  All that the Father gives to me will come to me, which means there’s a certain number that God has called out—and they will respond.  Seven verses later in John 6:44, we again see Jesus say, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.”  God is the great initiator—and give us the gift of faith and belief!

In Matthew 11:28, we read of how Jesus tells us to, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn of me.”  But what about Matthew 11:25-27:

25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding andrevealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.[a] 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

Folks come and say, “What about John 3:16?”  “Whosover believes.”  That is absolutely true!  Whosover believes.  But who are the ‘whosoever’?  Earlier, Jesus said that one had to be ‘born of the Spirit’ or ‘born again.”  In John 3:5-8:

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.[c] Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You[d] must be born again.’ The wind[e] blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

So is the ‘whosoever’ in John 3:16 anyone, or those whom God is working and calling?  And those who are born of the Spirit, are sealed by the Spirit—protected and preserved!  No emperor, no unbelief, no Satan can take them out of his hand.

In John 1:12-13:  “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

So one may say, “Then why should we share the gospel if God is working and saving without our aid?”  For one, he commands us.  For two, it fuels our evangelism to know that we aren’t the ones doing the saving—that’s God’s job.  We are called to plant the seeds for which God will bring the growth (1 Corinthians 3:8).  When someone asked Charles Spurgeon how he reconciled the doctrine of God’s sovereignty in election and predestination with preaching the gospel and calling people to repentance, he said in the way only Spurgeon could:

“I never have to reconcile friends. Divine sovereignty and human responsibility have never had a falling out with each other. I do not need to reconcile what God has joined together. Where these two truths meet I do not know, nor do I want to know. They do not puzzle me, since I have given up my mind to believing them both.”

Do you understand it?  Probably not!  Do I understand it?  I still struggle with it.  But I’m not called to preach and teach and embrace that which I understand, but also that which I do not completely comprehend!  But God has revealed it in His Word.  He has spoken, and we must listen.  What a big God we serve to send Christ to continue and complete a work that took place before anything was around, to have a purpose put forth and completed, and to have a big God in Christ worthy of our praise!  This is the goal:  total glorification and satisfaction in Him!  Are we satisfied?

Categories: 2008 Presidential Election, Arapahoe Road Baptist Church, Ephesians 1:3-14, free will, Paul, predestination, Romans 6, sermons, sovereignty of God | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

What Does Freedom Even Mean for the Christian?

(From the July 2015 Challenger article for Arapahoe Road Baptist Church)

Freedom. My goodness, what does this word mean? It depends on your perspective. John Green in his book The Fault in our Stars, gives an interesting insight into how folks see freedom. “Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin.” So, for some, freedom is the right to pursue whatever desires you have, whether it’s education, jobs, hobbies, or other practices that the Bible calls ‘sin.’ Think about it: many folks want their ‘rights’ in this land of freedom, but what they really want is affirmation in what the culture has previously determined as sin. Now those barriers and boundaries are falling. Freedom now means that anything goes.

As far as freedom is concerned in previous decades in America, it meant freedom from foreign coercion (we’re looking at you, King George II of Britain, Mr. Taxation-Without-Representation). In the 19th century leading up to our Civil War, the North and the South defined freedom very differently—at least the white people defined freedom in various ways, for the slaves saw freedom entirely differently. Even some of my ancestors wanted the freedom to keep others in slavery.

In January 6, 1941, Franklin D. Roosevelt, in reflecting on the escalating Second World War taking place in Europe, outlined four freedoms: the freedom of speech, the freedom of worship, the freedom from want, and the freedom from fear.

In the Scriptures, only one type of freedom exists, and that’s freedom in Christ. It’s a freedom that far surpasses any other freedom this world provides. The Bible does not give us freedom to do whatever we want, and still call ourselves believers. No, the freedom we have in Christ is a freedom from sin and a freedom from self-direction and self-preservation. What does this mean?

In Romans 6, Paul tells us that we are “free from sin,” (v. 6) no longer under its dominion (v. 9). But in our freedom, we are still “slaves of righteousness” (v 18). Scripture makes it clear that we stay enslaved to something, whether it’s to sin or to slavery.

I’m reminded of two books written about 200 years apart. One book, written by Martin Luther (1483-1546) is entitled The Bondage of the Will. In Colonial America, Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) wrote The Freedom of the Will. Well, which is it? The bondage of the will or the freedom of the will. Yes! When Christ saves us, our will comes in bondage to Christ’s will. At the same time, when Christ saves us, our will is free to obey Christ and His will. In essence, these books deal with the exact same topic, even though their titles on the surface look diametrically opposed to one another.

With the words freedom and liberty so prevalent in our founding documents (The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights), we as Americans see these words in the Scriptures and automatically works to find parallels. Granted, they exist—but only on the smallest of scales. While cultures may provide freedoms in all their varying perspectives and definitions, no culture, no man-made law, no king’s (with a small k) edict, no unspoken rules or traditions provide one molecule of freedom in the heart of any person on the planet.

You see, that freedom from sin was so elusive to human beings that the Father had to send His Son, Jesus Christ, to purchase our freedom on our behalf. Christ came as Holy God to fulfill the law that we disobeyed (which reflected the inclinations of our heart), but He also came as a human being to stand as a substitute for our atonement and redemption for our sin. No other act of love in the history of anything comes as close to this act of love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, and redemption. And again, no political freedom provided can free our hearts from that sin which enslaves us.

Independence Day? My goodness, dear Christian, every day in Christ is independence day, free in Christ under His Lordship! No other type of independence comes close!


Pastor Matt

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Clarity of Convictions Over Complacency and Compromise

The apostles (specifically, Peter) told the officials, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29)! There’s no language here of, “We’ll consider obeying God rather than men.” Or, “We’ll obey God rather than men if it’s the safer of the two options—otherwise, whatever way that’s safest is bestest.” We’ve read this passage that the apostles were already arrested due to the jealousy of the leaders. The disciples preached the gospel, with the Spirit empowering them to do signs and wonders that served as a conduit of the wonder of the saving grace of the gospel.

“We must obey God rather than men.” The apostles and the early church did not received favored status. They were not tax-exempt. They were jailed and lost their lives for the faith, as many around world do now! Pastor Saeed this past week just spent his 1,000th day in jail in Iran due to proclaiming his faith. ISIS beheads Christians monthly, if not weekly. We can say, “Well, that’s over there in the Middle East—this is the United States.” Yet, if our culture keeps drifting, and Christians rest on their laurels, then we will see the drift continue. The answer is not changing the political landscape. The spiritual process is far more effective than the political one.

They had two charges, but from two different authorities. In verse 28, the leaders told the apostles, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But what did God charge them to do? “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” Their response? V. 21: “And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach.” To whom did the disciples listen? “We must obey God rather than men.”

Many have the temptation of going along to get along. Like Demas, they will feel the pull of the world that takes them away from the providence of Christ. But as Kevin DeYoung said, “The Bible says that disciples of Jesus will be hated as Jesus was hated (John 15:18-25; 2 Tim. 3:12). If the world loves us, it is not a sign of our brilliance, but that we belong to the world.”

Know this, if we are clear that God has called for marriage to stay between a man and a woman not just because Genesis 1 says so, but that Jesus said so in Matthew 19:4-6:

4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

How counter-cultural is this?  Even Chief Justice John Roberts understood this in his dissent from Friday:

The majority graciously suggests that religious believers may continue to “advocate” and “teach” their views of marriage. The First Amendment guarantees, however, the freedom to “exercise” religion. Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses. Hard questions arise when people of faith exercise religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the new right to same-sex marriage—when, for example, a religious college provides married student housing only to opposite-sex married couples, or a religious adoption agency declines to place children with same-sex married couples… Unfortunately, people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today.[1]

So, having this mindset that any type of conjugal intimacy takes place within the confines of a man-woman marriage before God, and anything outside of that is sin—be prepared for persecution and mocking. Compromise will make you friends. Complacency will make people leave you alone. Clarity and conviction in what Christ tells you will make you obedient to God. And the only reason you’ll care about what others may say is when you feel sadness when folks reject the clear teaching of what God has said in Scripture. And you will care. You must care.


[1]Trevin Wax, Top 10 Quotes from the Dissenting Justices on Same-Sex Marriage. The Gospel Coalition.

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Articles Sorting Through the Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

As promised, I’ve put up some articles that will help our believers at Arapahoe Road Baptist Church sort through what’s next regarding this ruling.  We are Christians committed to what God has said as faithfully recorded in Scripture.  More and more, those on the other side of the issue will grow more vocal in looking at us as intolerant or bigoted or hateful, and any dissent from this new orthodoxy of legalizing so-called ‘same-sex’ marriage.  May this galvanize our prayer life, our Scripture reading, our own marriage and families, and our thirst for Christ and His unvarnished gospel.

But What Does the Bible Say?  (Kevin DeYoung): 

Now that the Supreme Court has issued its sweeping ruling in favor of same-sex marriage, we can expect an avalanche of commentary, analysis, and punditry. I’m not a law professor, a politician, a talk show host, or a public intellectual (whatever that is). I’m a pastor. I study and teach the Bible for a living. Which means, among all the things I may not be an expert on, I may be able to say something meaningful from the Scriptures. So as we pour over legal opinions and internet commentary, let us not forget what the Bible says.

Same-Sex Marriage Is Now the Law of the (U.S.) Land: What Now for Christians? (Ed Stetzer)

In the last six months,LifeWay Research has conducted ongoing research around the topic of same-sex marriage and homosexuality, and I imagine some of these studies will become much more important in the days to come.

Why the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage represents a new era for evangelicals (Collin Hansen, Op-Ed in the Washington Post)

Expect in this scenario to hear many calls for a national spiritual revival that will unexpectedly halt the progress of the sexual revolution. Expect disagreement over what the compassion of Jesus Christ demands of believers in this brave new world. Many of the loudest voices will say evangelicals must re-interpret the Scriptures as we hear how traditional views have harmed LGBTQ friends. Few will notice the faithful pastors and confidants poised to offer good news, a helping hand, and a warm shoulder to the victims and perpetrators of our age’s most dramatic cultural transformation.

Why the Church Should Neither Cave Nor Panic on the SCOTUS Decision on Gay Marriage (Russell Moore)

First of all, the church should not panic. The Supreme Court can do many things, but the Supreme Court cannot get Jesus back in that tomb. Jesus of Nazareth is still alive. He is still calling the universe toward his kingdom. Moreover, while this decision will, I believe, ultimately hurt many people and families and civilization itself, the gospel doesn’t need “family values” to flourish. In fact, the church often thrives when it is in sharp contrast to the cultures around it.

So-Called Same-Sex Marriage—Lamenting the New Calamity (John Piper)

My sense is that we do not realize what a calamity is happening around us.  My reason for writing is to help the church feel the sorrow of these days. And the magnitude of the assault on God and his image in man.

Naïve evangelicals trying to avoid the reproaches of Christ (Denny Burk)

Here’s the bottom line. No amount of niceness, of social justice advocating, of human-trafficking opposition, of listening to the right bands, of wearing the right clothes, of poverty relief, of reading N. T. Wright—or whatever cool Christian stuff you can align with—will remove the reproach of Christ from you if you choose to follow his teaching on sexuality. You are on a fool’s errand if you are trying. If you are trying to save your life, you will lose it. But if you will lose your life for his sake, you will find it (Matthew 16:25).

The Only Decision That Matters (Hershael York)

Two exhilarating possibilities emerge: revival among believers and a greater gospel impact beyond our walls. Think about it like this: has the church in the United States ever had a more advantageous time to stand in stark contrast to the world, to distinguish itself from the prevailing understanding of morality, to present a true counter-culture, to model the gospel? When we had greater numbers and political influence the world thought our great concern was with numbers and political influence. If we profess Christ and stand on the Word when it costs us dearly, however, then even our detractors and persecutors will see that it’s not about us, but about our Savior.

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A Great Example of Faith in Action

I originally posted this on Facebook, but thought I’d get it out on this blog for everyone else.

A neat story: my family and I went to Chick-Fil-A last night, and it started pouring down rain as we pulled in. When I got out of the car, I thought I heard something fall, but with the rain, I couldn’t see what it was. We were in CFA for about 30 minutes. We made it to our van, and as I was buckling in, a lady who I’d say was in her late 50’s tapped on my window. She asked me if I dropped my phone. Feeling my pockets, then checking my console, I realized that what I dropped was my phone. And there it lay. In the rain. For who knows how long.  Not a good mixture, ladies and gentlemen.  

Here’s the neat part: She and her grandson took my phone to the Verizon store and waited there with my phone, watching for me to get in my van. She could have taken it, or just dropped it off at the Verizon store–I’d have been none the wiser. I thanked her, and she said, “Well, it’s all a part of God’s plan.” She had to go, so I couldn’t inquire further. But whatever her faith, it’s a lesson for us not to just talk about it, but to go the extra mile and put it into action.

My phone, even after the rice treatment, is not behaving well at all. But I sure am grateful to the woman who looked after it and us, even without knowing us. Our faith in action, friends. People need to see the Light of Christ.

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Getting to Know Baptists Better

I’m a Baptist.  And I’m a Southern Baptist.  And I live in Colorado.  Some have preconceived notions as to what Baptists are.  Below are some of the convictions we have as Baptists.  I’m grateful to a deacon named Henry with whom I served in Breckinridge County, KY in 2002-2003 where I pastored a small church.  What exactly are Baptists?  This acronym will help you understand the basics:

Biblical authority:

“The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man.  It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction.  It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter.  Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy.  It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried.  All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation” (BF&M 2000, Article I: Scriptures).

Autonomy of the local church:

“Autonomy means that each Baptist church, among other things, selects its pastoral leadership, determines its worship form, decides financial matters and directs other church-related affairs without outside control or supervision. Baptist denominational organizations such as associations of churches and state and national conventions have no authority over a Baptist church” (Baptists Believe in Church Autonomy,

Priesthood of believers:

A priest serves as a mediator in interceding between God and His people, and representing God to His people and the world.  Christians may come to God on their own, with Christ as their mediator.  We do this individually, but also corporately in connection with a body of believers.  We need none other to approach God on our behalf besides Jesus.   “There is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

Two ordinances:  Baptism and the Lord’s Supper

Baptism (from the Greek baptizo) means to immerse upon one’s profession of faith and repentance in Jesus Christ (Mark 1:9-11; Acts 8:26-40; Romans 6:1-4).

Lord’s Supper contains the bread and juice which are symbols of the reality of the crucified Christ who broke His body and shed His blood for the forgiveness of sin (1 Corinthians 11:23-34).

Intentional in evangelism and missions

Baptists take the Great Commission seriously (Matthew 28:18-20).  The new birth in the Spirit births a new love for others (John 3:1-8; 13:34-35).  We seek to win the lost by verbal witness along with a Christian lifestyle, and other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ.  Our giving of our finances, time, and spiritual gifts is for the purpose of advancing the gospel from our community to the corners of creation, for His glory and our good (Colossians 3:23; 2 Corinthians 9:6-7).

Salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

In order to be a member of a Baptist church, you must be regenerate (a.k.a., born again) by grace alone through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9) in Christ alone (John 14:6).  We are called by the Spirit (Romans 8:26-30), justified from the penalty of sin (Romans 3:21-26), set apart from the power of sin (1 Thessalonians 4:3), glorified in heaven from the presence of sin (Revelation 21:1-4).  There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ.

Two offices in the church:  pastor and deacon (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Acts 6:1-4).

Pastors (also called in the New Testament elders, bishops, and overseers) oversee the spiritual needs of the church, primarily prayer and ministry of the Word (Acts 6:4, 1 Peter 5:1-5).  Deacons oversee the physical needs of the church (Acts 6:1-7).  The qualifications for each are found in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9.  Each Baptist church is led by the Holy Spirit to select their own pastors and deacons (see Autonomy of the Church).

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