Weekly Links (4/7/2017)

by Stephen Rodgers

Alright…happy Friday once again. Since this particular happy Friday is the first of the month, that means it’s time for a postload of free stuff. So, in no particular order…

  • Know Why You Believe by Paul E. Little (audio book) – I’m not familiar with this particular book, but it’s free if anyone wants to check it out.
  • Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes by Randolph and O’Brien (Logos resource) – I’m familiar with the central thesis of this book (that “WEIRD”…Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic) readers are prone to misunderstanding or failing to understanding cultural and social norms that are foreign to our experience. And up to a point, that’s a completely valid observation. What I don’t know is whether this book occupies the “responsible scholarship” end of the spectrum, or the “nut with an agenda” end of the spectrum. Again though, it’s free if someone wants to roll the dice or is a collector.
  • JBMW 21.2 (journal) – The latest edition of the Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood is out, and I have no problem recommending it. Apparently Denny Burk lays out his vision for its parent organization, so that will be interesting to see.
  • “Luther at 500” (magazine) – As I mentioned last time, CredoMag was advertising a year of Reformation-themed issues, and the first one has arrived! Again, this is a resource that I’m happy to recommend.
  • “The 17th Century” (magazine) – Of course, I’m MOST happy to recommend Tabletalk. (Although they can only milk this “xxth century” theme a few more times before they’ll either run out of centuries or have to start in on the BC ones). Still…a name Tabletalk is always a good thing.

Enjoy!

One Body: Running Together for the Faith

by Josh Liu

How would you evaluate your understanding of church? How would you evaluate your heart attitude toward the church? How would you evaluate your participation, involvement, and commitment to the church? We would do well to elevate our view of the church to the beauty, priority, and responsibilities Scripture instructs. For that, I am deeply thankful that our College Life Retreat addressed the theme of the local church.

Chris Gee

Overview

The 2017 College Life Retreat theme–One Body: Running Together for the Faith–focused on the beauty, commitment, need, and responsibilities of the local church. Pastor Chris Gee presented a thoroughly robust ecclesiology! Here is a brief overview of the sessions:

Session 1 – What Is the Church? (Selected Scriptures)

The church is the temple of God, a pillar of the truth, the bride of Christ, and the family of God. If the church does not feel like family, serve!

Session 2 – For Better or For Worse (Selected Scriptures)

The case for church membership and why being committed to a church will result in the deepest and most authentic love. The early church models church membership, our leaders’ responsibility to us implies it, church discipline necessitates it, the one another commands demand it, and the metaphors for the church illustrate it. The greater the commitment to one another, the deeper the love we will experience.

Session 3 – One Another (John 13:34-35; Heb. 10:24-25; James 2:1-13)

We love sacrificially like Christ loved; we fellowship in a way that provokes each other to holiness; and we love and serve in the church without partiality. We do not show favoritism and we do not exclude people.

Session 4 – The Power of Encouragement (Eph. 4:29)

Our tongues play a big role in promoting unity in the church. Biblical encouragement can draw us together. Good encouragement is God-centered, specific, genuine, thoughtful, and verbal.

Session 5 – Give Your Life Away (Acts 20:17-38)

The greatest joy is found in giving your life away to God and to others. Apostle Paul models for us what it is to knit your heart to a group of people so closely that you sweat, weep, and bleed for them.

Beside the sessions, other retreat highlights include discussion groups, lost nametag punishments, playing outdoor games in the rain, hosting a “lipdub” music video competition, and corporate sharing!

Below are brief reflections from the sessions that serve as a primer to meditating on, studying, and applying ecclesiology.

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Five Brief Reflections

Reflection #1: The Church Is Important (cf. Acts 20:28)

This might seem elementary, but many do not understand the depth of the importance of the church. Practically, there are many in the church who treat the church as a low priority (e.g., committing to extracurricular activities over the church).

Pastor Chris powerfully reminded us of the importance of the church: “Why is the church worth your life? Why is the church valuable enough to give your life? Because Jesus thought it was valuable, so valuable that He gave His own life. Christ thought the church was precious enough to die for; we ought to think the church is precious enough to live for.”

Reflection #2: The Church Is Needed (cf. 1 Cor. 12:14-27; Heb. 10:25)

The pictures and metaphors (the temple of God, a pillar of the truth, the bride of Christ, the family of God, the body of Christ), responsibilities of, and commands to the church make it needed for each believer to be committed to a local assembly. It is within the church that the believer beholds the fullness of Christ, faithfully carries out the good works that God prepared, and stands as a corporate witness to the world.

Pastor Chris shared an account about Charles Spurgeon (which I have adapted from other sources but have not been able to verify as fact, yet believed it was a helpful illustration):
One day a young man came to visit Spurgeon and the young man said to him, “I can be a Christian without the church; I don’t need others.” They were sitting in the lounge by an open fire and Spurgeon picked up some tongs, took a coal from the blazing fire, and placed it on the hearth. They continued talking and after awhile, Spurgeon said, “Look down at the hearth. What happened to the coal I took out of the fire?” The young man answered, “Well, it’s become black. It’s lost its heat and its flame.” Spurgeon replied, “Young man, that’s why you need to be part of the church, because it is only together we are stimulated and together that we grow. But like this coal taken out of the fire, on its own it dies out. But in the heat of the fire all the other coals are stimulating it to go on glowing and give off heat.”

Reflection #3: The Church Is Active (cf. Rom. 12:4-8)

There are many who simply attend church without any participation or involvement in the body of Christ. The church is not simply a program or service to witness, after which an attendee returns to his or her life. Each individual member of the body of Christ is expected to be active for the healthy functioning of the whole body.

Pastor Chris highlights three myths about serving in the church: (1) my church does not need me to serve; (2) ministry is programs; and (3) I am too young to make an impact.

Scripture describes every believer as a unique part of the body with spiritual gifts given for the edification of the church, since ministry (i.e., church) is people, not program. There are no age prerequisites for the active functioning within the church.

Reflection #4: The Church Is Beautiful (cf. 2 Cor. 3:18)

I cannot help but be in awe of the biblical descriptors of the church! Too many find the church as an unattractive religious institution, outdated or offensive.

God sanctifies His saints from one degree of glory to another, unto Christlikeness. It is a beautiful image of the Gospel of Christ. The church is the temple of God (1 Pet. 2:4-5), the pillar of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15), the bride of Christ (Eph. 5:25; 31-32), and the family of God (1 Tim. 3:15; 5:1-2). It reflects the glory of God and His redemptive work!

Reflection #5: The Church Is Family (cf. Rom. 8:16-17; 1 John 3:1-2)

Many complain about a lack of intimacy, fellowship, or community in the church. There may be valid points for particularly difficult experiences; however, each believer is united in Christ becoming a child of God, brother and co-heir with Christ, and joined to the family of God.

The family of God produces authentic intimate community, overflowing in acts of love, unified in experience and devotion, and pursuing the same direction of life (cf. Acts 2:41-47; Rom. 12:9-21; Matt. 28:18-20).

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Conclusion

Implied above is that there are many who have a distorted, unbiblical understanding of the church. They often consider the church unimportant, irrelevant, unnecessary, passive, unattractive, and, at best, weekend acquaintances. These reflections serve as primers–preliminary thoughts and exhortations–to studying and being a faithful member of the church to the glory of Christ–the head of the church.

Missions Monday #1 – Introduction

by Stephen Rodgers

I’m extremely happy to introduce a new series here on the Beacon that addresses the topic of “missions” in the context of LBC. Our little church isn’t so little anymore, and there’s a pretty sizable number of attendees who have come since the last set of trips in 2015. So this will be a fantastic opportunity for people who’ve been-there-done-that to reflect and reminisce, as well as for the relative newcomers to discover why missions is such a big deal at LBC. And more than just knowledge, the hope here is that this will lead to greater church-wide involvement in this particular ministry.

Maybe you’ve asked yourself one or more of the following questions:

  • What is LBC’s theology of missions?
  • Why do we go to the Czech Republic and Argentina?
  • Who’s going?
  • What even happens on a missions trip anyways?
  • How can the church help?
  • What’s a “Meinolf?”
  • Where can I immerse myself in media relevant to past trips?

All of these and more will be answered in the coming weeks. I’m looking forward to it myself, and I’m really looking forward to getting these articles in front of all of you.

See you next Monday!

Search the Scriptures

by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

John 5:39

The Greek word here rendered search signifies a strict, close, diligent, curious search, such as men make when they are seeking gold, or hunters when they are in earnest after game. We must not rest content with having given a superficial reading to a chapter or two, but with the candle of the Spirit we must deliberately seek out the hidden meaning of the word.

  • Holy Scripture requires searching-much of it can only be learned by careful study. There is milk for babes, but also meat for strong men. The rabbis wisely say that a mountain of matter hangs upon every word, yea, upon every title of Scripture. Tertullian exclaims, ‘I adore the fulness of the Scriptures.’ No man who merely skims the book of God can profit thereby; we must dig and mine until we obtain the hid treasure. The door of the word only opens to the key of diligence.
  • The Scriptures claim searching. They are the writings of God, bearing the divine stamp and imprimatur- who shall dare to treat them with levity? He who despises them despises the God who wrote them. God forbid that any of us should leave our Bibles to become swift witnesses against us in the great day of account.
  • The word of God will repay searching. God does not bid us sift a mountain of chaff with here and there a grain of wheat in it, but the Bible is winnowed corn-we have but to open the granary door and find it. Scripture grows upon the student. It is full of surprises. Under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, to the searching eye it glows with splendour of revelation, like a vast temple paved with wrought gold, and roofed with rubies, emeralds, and all manner of gems. No merchandise like the merchandise of Scripture truth.
  • Lastly, the Scriptures reveal Jesus: ‘They are they which testify of Me.’ No more powerful motive can be urged upon Bible readers than this: he who finds Jesus finds life, heaven, all things. Happy he who, searching his Bible, discovers his Saviour.

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Weekly Links (3/31/2017)

“The difference between the true God and the gods of the nations is that the true God carries and the other gods must be carried. God serves; they must be served. God glorifies his might by showing mercy. They glorify theirs by gathering slaves. So the vision of God as one whose passion for his glory moves him to mercy impels missions because he is utterly unique among all the gods.” (John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad!: The Supremacy of God in Missions)

by Cesar Vigil-Ruiz

Feliz Friday! March is over, and April is right around the corner. I hope this week’s links will give you much to think about into next month. Here we go!

  • Have you ever wondered if there is any presence of Reformed theology in China? Well, you can wonder no more as the TGC blog highlights the awakening of Reformational Christianity there.
  • The Center for Medical Progress, who have become known as the organization exposing Planned Parenthood for illegally profiting from the selling of fetal parts, have uploaded a new video featuring a former Planned Parenthood implying she would engage in infanticide. The Equal Rights Institute gives some great analysis of this video. Unfortunately, David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, the ones behind CMP’s videos, have been charged with 15 felonies based on recording alleged ‘confidential communications’ between complete strangers and at public conferences and restaurants. David French points out the blatant hypocrisy in this charge made in CA.
  • With the new release of her new book This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years, Jacquelle Crowe writes of the important relationship that must exist between the church and teens. To that, I give a hearty ‘Amen!’
  • Kevin DeYoung continues his theological primer series by writing on God’s infinity. Well worth your time (which won’t take much of it)!
  • Pastor Jon MacDonald gives a biblical corrective to the ungodly (and overused) phrase, ‘Happy wife, happy life!’
  • How should Christians respond when confronted with the claim that faith in God is irrational or that scientists shouldn’t believe in the supernatural? Scientist and Christian apologist Neil Shenvi gives a great answer!
  • What would you say qualifies one to be a biblical counselor? Pastor Armand Tiffe gives a sound résumé.
  • Over at The Cripplegate, Wyatt Graham writes a response to Rod Dreher’s book The Benedict Option with the gospel option. Luma Simms writes of her own story of adopting the Benedict option before it was dubbed as such, and the consequences of its application.

That’s all for this week! Please be in prayer for the church, as they all meet in their various flocks. See you all on Sunday!

Soli Deo Gloria

What Does It Mean to Be Faithful?

by Pastor Patrick Cho

Faithfulness is a quality that every Christian should seek to cultivate. Indeed, God’s people are called to do so in Scripture (Ps. 37:3). Generally speaking, faithfulness is defined as trustworthiness or dependability. Simply put, to be faithful means that you will do what you say. But I wonder if there is something deeper and more foundational to its definition. In Proverbs 27:6, it says that the wounds of a friend are faithful. What does this mean in light of our working definition: “to do what you say?” Does a true friend first promise to wound and then follow through with this promise? Is that the intention of the verse?

Likewise, what does the psalmist mean when he says, “…in faithfulness You have afflicted me” (Ps. 119:75). What do the trials and troubles we face have to do with God’s faithfulness? Is it that our troubles are the fulfillment of God’s promise? It seems verses like these demonstrate that our simple definition of faithfulness is too simple.

A better way to understand faithfulness is that a person acts in accordance with who they are. In other words, when it comes to God, He is faithful in that He will never cease to be God or act like God. In this sense, God’s faithfulness is tied to the doctrine of His immutability or constancy. God will always be God and God will always act like God. This means that He will dependably be Himself regarding all that we know about Him. For instance, we know that God is a God of love, and so His love will be a faithful love.

Faithfulness, then, is part of what it means to be God. He must be faithful because He is God. This is what the Apostle Paul refers to in 2 Timothy 2:11-13. God will remain faithful even in light of our unfaithfulness not only because He cannot lie or that He is a God of truth, but because He cannot deny Himself. His faithfulness in some way is the definition and outworking of His God-ness.

What does this definition of faithfulness mean for the believer since believers are likewise called to be faithful? If all people are inherently sinful and depraved, wouldn’t faithfulness mean that they would always act in accordance with their sinfulness? No, because in Christ we have been forgiven, redeemed, and transformed. We are not the same as we used to be. What this means, though, is that our faithfulness finds its appropriate application in Him.

Any unbeliever can do what he says he will do, but the Bible calls faithfulness a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). One must have been saved by the grace of God in order to be faithful in God’s sight. To be faithful means to act consistently with our new identity in Christ. The fact that we are called to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called is itself a call to faithfulness (Eph. 4:1).

Therefore, the psalmist can conclude that God has afflicted him in His faithfulness. This means that even though he is facing some of the most difficult trials of his life, he can trust that God will not cease to be God in the midst of them. God is not acting out of evil. God has not forgotten him. The psalmist can trust that God continues to be who He has revealed Himself to be – faithful to His word, the defender of the weak, the Savior of His people. And when in the Proverbs it teaches that the wounds of a friend are faithful, it means that the one who is “being wounded” can trust that his friend is acting in love because he is a friend.

Do you trust in God’s faithfulness? Even when you face various difficulties, would you trust that God will faithfully be God in the midst of them? Also, do you seek to cultivate faithfulness as one who is in Christ? Do you understand that true faithfulness can only be lived out in Him because of the inner change that He brings about by saving us? Certainly, we ought to be faithful because God is faithful.

The Lord Hath Done Great Things For Us

by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Psalm 126:3

Some Christians are sadly prone to look on the dark side of everything, and to dwell more upon what they have gone through than upon what God has done for them. Ask for their impression of the Christian life, and they will describe their continual conflicts, their deep afflictions, their sad adversities, and the sinfulness of their hearts, yet with scarcely any allusion to the mercy and help which God has vouchsafed them. But a Christian whose soul is in a healthy state, will come forward joyously, and say, ‘I will speak, not about myself, but to the honour of my God. He hath brought me up out of an horrible pit, and out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings: and He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God. The Lord hath done great things for me, whereof I am glad.’ Such an abstract of experience as this is the very best that any child of God can present.

It is true that we endure trials, but it is just as true that we are delivered out of them. It is true that we have our corruptions, and mournfully do we know this, but it is quite as true that we have an all-sufficient Saviour, who overcomes these corruptions, and delivers us from their dominion. In looking back, it would be wrong to deny that we have been in the Slough of Despond, and have crept along the Valley of Humiliation, but it would be equally wicked to forget that we have been through them safely and profitably; we have not remained in them, thanks to our Almighty Helper and Leader, who has brought us ‘out into a wealthy place.’ The deeper our troubles, the louder our thanks to God, who has led us through all, and preserved us until now. Our griefs cannot mar the melody of our praise, we reckon them to be the bass part of our life’s song, ‘He hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad.’

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Weekly Links (3/24/2017)

“For whenever we make the warrant to believe in Christ to any degree dependent upon our subjective condition, we distort it. Repentance, turning from sin, and degrees of conviction of sin do not constitute the grounds on which Christ is offered to us. They may constitute ways in which the Spirit works as the gospel makes its impact on us. But they never form the warrant for repentance and faith.” (Sinclair Ferguson, The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance–Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters)

by Cesar Vigil-Ruiz

Feliz Friday! The week has finally come to an end, so why not spend some time focused on Christ? Hopefully, these links will accomplish this end!

  • What is the best way to understand the Bible! Professor Leland Ryken believes it to be by becoming familiar with the literary forms of each book, and provides a summary list of each form for every book of the Bible. Take a look!
  • Ever wonder in what ways the new covenant is better than the old? Pastor Jesse Johnson gives a solid list of nine ways. Take heart, believer!
  • How can Intelligent Design help us understand physiology? South African anesthesiologist Philip Anderson gives some helpful examples. Read on!
  • Christian philosopher J.P. Moreland answers a very common objection to Christianity with wit and wisdom: “What caused God?”
  • Biblical counselor Ed Welch talks with Nancy Guthrie about how to teach those who struggle with shame, addiction or anxiety by introducing them to a Person.
  • Biblical counselor Ron Allchin provides a biblical answer to the question, “Marriage: good idea or God’s idea?”
  • How can we grow to bear much spiritual fruit? What does that even mean? Pastor Ed Fedor gives some much-needed counsel.
  • Professor David Murray gives four pieces of advice for those who are anxious, stressed or burned out. Make sure to read his previous posts from this week located at the end of the post.
  • Pastor Aaron Menikoff writes a great post on the comfort that the Father gives in adopting His children by way of Christ, through the power of the Spirit. Always a tremendous truth worth pondering and praising God for!
  • Learn from Pastor Paul Tautges on how to make best use of your time. I think this qualifies as the post of the week.

That’s all for this week! Please be in prayer for Salt and Light, as they will be at their retreat this weekend, as well as the youth, who are meeting at church tonight. See you all on Sunday!

Soli Deo Gloria