Pastors' Blog

Monday
Mar102014

Do Good People Need Jesus?

The history of the early Christian church is found in the book of Acts, which comes right after the for Gospel accounts in the New Testament. It speaks to God’s faithfulness and power, for lives touched by the Gospel are never the same.

There are two conversion accounts that involve people on the opposite side of the spectrum. Saul of Tarsus (later, the Apostle Paul) was the zealous religious leader who tried to stamp out Christianity by throwing them in prison or killing them. He needs Jesus – we get that. Then you have the first non-Jew to be saved, Cornelius. He is a deeply religious, thoughtful, generous and well regarded by everyone. Does he need Jesus? He is practicing his religion, helping others, and not hurting anyone. I'm sure you know people like him. Isn’t it narrow minded to assume he needs Jesus? Can’t we leave him alone and focus on other people without pushing our exclusive claims on people like him? 

Luke’s account in Acts makes it clear that Cornelius – and people like him – do need Jesus. It is GOD who disrupts Cornelius’ life with an angelic visitor, directing him to fetch Peter and listen carefully to what he has to say. Peter then receives his own vision and is led kicking and screaming to visit this Gentile’s home. The end is glorious, as Cornelius’ house is not only saved but also wonderfully visited by the Spirit.

Why does it feel so unnecessary for good people to be bothered with Jesus? We often have a flawed view of our own sinfulness and God’s holiness. We naturally think that if we’re better than our neighbor or not as bad as Bin Laden, we’ll make it in somehow. Or that God will just have mercy on us, because He’s good like that. Or that we’ll spend a few hundred years in purgatory paying for our misdeeds before being let in. The problem with all that is this: that’s our rules, not His.

God is holy and terrifyingly so. Beyond our comprehension. Moral perfection on every level.

We are not. Not even close. I hope I don’t have to convince you of this one.

If God were to simply excuse our wrongdoings, that would be merciful but His justice would suffer loss. And who could possibly ever earn a good standing before Him?

Here’s the great news. Jesus came to save sinners, to suffer in our stead. Through His death on the cross, sins are fully accounted for and grace extended to regular people like you and me. Jesus is for the Sauls of the world who are full of hatred and harm others, but He’s ALSO for those who have a lot going on for them and look good on the outside. We all fall short, we all miss the mark. 

Is this offensive? Of course it is. We’re all called on the carpet and not one of us can solve this ourselves. It brings to light the depth of our sin while leveling the playing field. This is not man’s idea, it’s God’s own verdict.

But once we get past our own pride and self-sufficiency, sweeter words could not be heard:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

- Pastor Colin

 

 

 

Sunday
Dec012013

Ananias & Sappira and Advent

So why preach this on the first day of Advent? First of all, we’re in a series and I wanted to keep going. Ha! But, consider these Advent applications: 

1) What a potent reminder that God is still HOLY.  Enough people were struck dead in the Old Testament to get the point.  These days we talk about grace and love and mercy and the cross and baby Jesus and peace…here we’re reminded early in church history to include HOLY.  From the Old Testament to the New, He hasn’t changed.  

2) Speaking of HOLY, why did Jesus come in the first place?  He didn’t come to teach, heal, love or help.  He came to die. He came to die as the only remedy for our sin problem before our thrice holy God. 

3) As Jesus came to give His life, He not only saved us from eternal loss but also redeemed us from lawlessness now.  He enables us to get it right even when others around us indulge their passions.  Ananias and Sapphira remind us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.  Yes you’re saved by grace, but that grace wasn’t cheap.  You’re called to holy living.  

Two Christians who made bad choices have a message for us today during this Advent Season.  God used their lives by shortening them dramatically; an enduring testimony to the church that secret sins are no secret to Him.  In light of such, give it all you’ve got as you serve Christ, both now and throughout the year:  He is worthy of no less.  As Peter said elsewhere:  

But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 

- Pastor Colin

Wednesday
Oct162013

The Bible: Why Eyewitnesses Matter

Christianity is just a bunch of ancient myths and the Bible was put together around a campfire. 

Ever hear that?  It’s a common assertion leveled against those who actually believe the Bible.  Trouble is, it’s entirely untenable.  

At Derwood Bible Church we’ve just started a series on the book of Acts, which chronicles the history of the early Christian church.  It is striking how Luke, the author, is determined to establish the historicity of his accounts.  In his own words, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.  A highly trained medical doctor, Luke leaves no stone unturned to ensure his readers know that his historical presentation is established upon eyewitness accounts. 

He begins his account referencing Christ’s resurrection:  [Jesus] presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days. The Apostle Paul elsewhere mentions Him appearing to a crowd of 500.  When Peter preaches, he simply assumes everyone knows about Jesus' life and ministry:  Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know.  

Luke often cites those who were eyewitnesses. Consider these phrases, found in the first two chapters alone: as they were looking on…out of their sight…and while they were gazing…this Jesus will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven…you crucified…of that we all are witnesses…this Jesus whom you crucified.

To say the Biblical accounts were old myths strewn together overlooks the obvious, not to mention the painstaking measures taken by the authors and scribes to ensure accuracy of content and transmission.  The Biblical text itself – and the authors – simply do not allow for such a glaring caricature.  It is understood that the miraculous nature of some Biblical accounts can be challenging to accept, and of course the authors wrote within the framework of ANE historians.   But a blanket statement that the Bible is a collection of fairy tales loosely preserved and over exaggerated is to ignore plain facts and the intent of the authors.  The Christian message is taken by faith, of course, but it is built upon well documented and assimilated historical events.  It is for this reason the Apostle Paul told the Corinthian church:  I passed on to you that which was of first importance:  that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again, according to the Scriptures.  He boldly declared all of Christianity to be wrapped up in one historical event:  the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

And that makes no sense if it didn’t actually happen.  Not to mention overwhelmingly attested to. 

- Pastor Colin

Tuesday
Apr092013

Declaring His Excellencies!

The Apostle Peter gives us all a compelling personal mission statement:      

that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

The sole purpose of your life is to declare to others the AWESOME God that you serve. To speak often, and to speak well, of your Savior.  

Imagine if true Christians were not known for what we’re against, but for the fact that we can’t stop talking about Jesus.  How He loves us.  How He’s given hope.  Given us perspective and purpose.  How He’s rearranged our priorities.  His holiness, majesty and beauty.  How He perfectly fulfills over 300 direct prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures.  How He suffered and died for our sins, freeing us to love others freely and without condition…no matter who you are. How we now live with an eternal perspective and no longer run after what others do.

How do I do this?  First, the decision is mine to be conscious of Him every day, moment by moment.  What’s on my mind is what you’re going to hear me talk about. It’s a settled decision and conviction on my part. Second, I look for and take up the opportunity to give Him praise in all circumstances, not matter where I am, not being afraid of what others may think. 

Why do I do this?  Because we’re people for his own possession.  Once we had not received mercy, but now we have received mercy.  Do we need any other reason?  “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, than no sacrifice is to great for me to make for Him.”  Or, “he is no fool who looses what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose”.  Our eternal destiny has been rewritten because He loves me and died for my forgiveness. 

No matter what your circumstances, you can ALWAYS praise Him, even in the desert.  Because your life is a vapor and the sufferings of this life are not worthy to be compared to the eternal glories ahead of you.  Because He loves you, and, suffered for you.  I don’t mean to overlook your struggles, but, I hope to point you to victory even when you see none.  Make it your ambition to speak of His excellencies because He has called you to His marvelous light! 

-      Pastor Colin

P.S.  I chose the picture of Kaylee because she’s not afraid to speak up and tell you what’s on her mind!

 

Thursday
Mar072013

Preparing to Suffer

In taking a short break from writing a paper for seminary I came across this little gem titled "How Christians Prepare for Suffering". Seems like a topic that is always applicable. Pointing to Paul as the example the Parnell makes these points (which you should go check out):

1. Count it all, that is everything that might be labeled "gain", past, present, and future and call it "loss".

2. Once that is done you've now entered "normal" Christianity. Paul was not an exception but an example to follow. We over-privileged Americans need to wrestle hard with this one.

3. Remind ourselves continually that Jesus is better. Better than what? Everything. Those people and things that are most precious to you - Jesus comes first. He is better. Thus we can call it all "loss".

4. Love Christ today.

He ends with this, "It will not minimize the pain. Not at all. But we will know, even in the darkest night, that Jesus is our God and all, that he is our Rock and treasure, that he is enough." This is how we prepare to suffer.

Mike