October 9, 2017

Looking Ahead at PRBC

The last 2½ months of the PRBC year are always a season of good opportunities and important preparation. This year is no exception. To get you ready (and praying), here’s a little head’s up as to some of what is, Lord willing, ahead between now and the close of the year:

Reformation Reading. In this month of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, don’t forget about all the materials that are on our Resource Rack, to help you learn more about the great work of God in restoring the Word and the gospel to His church.

Reformation Hymn-Sing. The King’s Chapel is hosting an evening of celebrating the Reformation through the singing of hymns. October 29, 6:30pm at The King’s Chapel. Join in!

Servant Ministry Roles. We’re asking the church family to be thinking and praying, this month, about how God might have you serve in and through PRBC in 2018. Please do make every effort to consider this carefully, and to turn in your questionnaires by 10/29. Be praying for the elders and deacons, too, as they gather in November to piece together a proposed servant ministry roster for the coming year.

Possible New Elder. The elders and deacons are considering recommending Brad Garrison for the position of elder. See today’s bulletin announcement for details. Please pray that the elders and deacons would have the mind of Christ in this matter … and that we all, as a congregation, would have Christ’s mind about this as well.

2018 Budget. Please be in prayer for the elders and deacons, also, as we gather in November to put together a proposed 2018 budget.

Operation Christmas Child. We’ll begin collecting various gifts for Operation Christmas Child on October 22. Keep an eye out for bulletin inserts that will inform you of what can (and cannot) be donated. Please note that toothpaste and candy cannot be donated this year.  Our wrapping party is scheduled for 11/17.

International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. We will use our 9am prayer meeting on Sunday, 11/5, to concertedly pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. The hour will feature a video and prayer materials from The Voice of the Martyrs. The children’s class at that hour will also pray, and watch a children’s video.

Lottie Moon Christmas Offering®. Each year, in December, we collect this offering … 100% of which goes to support our International Mission Board's missionary efforts. Be thinking and praying about what you might give this year!

Lots of opportunities for joining in! And lots of reasons to pray! Join us in doing both!

October 3, 2017

Vernacular Scriptura

One of the great blessings of the Protestant Reformation was the rediscovery of the doctrine of Sola Scriptura – the truth that what we believe, in matters of Christian faith and practice, must come from Scripture alone. But perhaps of equal value, both during the Reformation, and even before it, was what we might call Vernacular Scriptura – that is, the translating of the Bible into the vernacular; into the language of the masses!

Praise God for this development! For, how far would many of the needed reforms have gotten if Reformation leaders had obeyed the unjust laws of their day, which forbade translating the Bible into the common tongues of the people; if the written word of God had remained locked away in a language (Latin) which most people could neither read nor understand? So praise God for men like Wycliffe, Luther, Tyndale, and others who brought the word of God to the people, in their own languages! We are still benefitting, today, from this great Reformation advance!

And how ought we respond, given the precious blessing of having what so many people, for so many years, did not have – the Bible in our own tongue? Let me make three suggestions:

1. Read it! It’s quite simple, isn’t it? Men and women of old were willing to risk their lives in order to make the Bible available in the English language. Most of us have multiple copies – resources that they would have given almost anything to possess. Let us not let them go to waste! Let us, very simply, take advantage of what the Reformation has bequeathed to us. Let us actually read these English Bibles that are at our fingertips!

2. Give it away! Preaching is indispensable … and it was so during the Protestant Reformation. But so, also, was the newly acquired opportunity for the literate population to actually read the Bible for themselves. The providential dovetailing of Bible-translation into the common tongue, coupled with the recent invention of the printing press, put the Bible in front of many, many eyes that had never read it before! And it was spiritual dynamite across Europe! And maybe, just maybe, something like that could happen in our own day, if we began to put the Bible before eyes that have scarcely read it. Our neighbors’ reasons for not reading the Scriptures are different from many of the people of the Reformation era, but maybe some of our contemporaries would read if we gave them a neat little copy, say, of the gospel or Mark, or Luke, or John. And who knows what God might do!

Note also that The Voice of the Martyrs is working to provide many Christians, “living in hostile and restricted nations,” with their own copies of the Bible!  You can give toward this worthy cause at vombibles.com.

3. Support translation! There are still languages in the world, today, into which the Scriptures have not yet been translated! Not for the same reasons as in Europe of old, but there are still people who have never read the Bible in their own language – and some who will never read it at all, unless it is provided in their own language! And yet, praise God, there are people and organizations committed to remedying this lack! Pray for them! Consider supporting them financially! And, if you have a gift for languages, consider studying Bible, Greek, and Hebrew so that you might, perhaps, join them someday in the mission of Vernacular Scriptura!

“The unfolding of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130). May we continue to unfold those words, brothers and sisters, both for ourselves and others!

September 28, 2017

Sermons: The Fruit of the Spirit

We've just completed a study of "the fruit of the Spirit" from Galatians 5:22-23.  Listen in!

Galatians 5:22-23 - Intro and Love - mp3
Galatians 5:22b - Joy - mp3
Galatians 5:22c - Peace - mp3
Galatians 5:22d - Patience - mp3
Galatians 5:22e - Kindness - mp3
Galatians 5:22f - Goodness - mp3
Galatians 5:22g - Faithfulness - mp3
Galatians 5:23a - Gentleness - mp3
Galatians 5:23b - Self-Control - mp3

Thanks, Gary and Carolyn, for the delicious peaches pictured above!

September 25, 2017

Reformation Resources

October 31st, 1517.

Mallet in hand, a German monk and university professor named Martin Luther walked to the Wittenberg church door, nailed to it ninety-five points for debate, and opened the floodgates upon a growing tide of gospel truth that gushed out as the Protestant Reformation. And now, going on five hundred years later, we have great cause to be thankful to God for the recovery of the Bible and its gospel of grace! And we have reason to familiarize ourselves with the people, the events, and the truths contended for in the Protestant Reformation.

This month of October (whose final day marks the 500th anniversary of Luther's opening of the floodgates) would be a good time to take up such a project of familiarization. So, I've compiled a list of resources that could help you do so. Some of them are longer, others more brief. Some are basic, others more detailed. A few are audio or video resources, though most are written. Some are for children, others for adults. Some are free, and others will be worth paying for. You won't get to them all, but you would be blessed to take up one, or two, or more of them ... and get to know our rich Christian heritage in the month leading up to the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

Books marked with an asterisk (*) are (or, Lord willing, will be) available to borrow on the Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church Resource Rack.  

The links for paper-copy books are to Amazon.  Please note that you can get many of these books from Grace Books for even better prices (and free shipping on orders over $50)!  If you order from Grace Books, however, please note that (since Grace is in PA) you will not be charged sales tax (unless you live in PA!), and you will therefore need to report these purchases to your home state, and pay the appropriate sales tax to your home state.  The same is true if you purchase from other online outlets that do not collect sales tax for your home state (including Amazon if it does not colelct sales tax for your state).

Introduction to the Reformation


The Five Solas 
(listed from the most basic to the most detailed)

Website: The Five Solas of the Reformation, James M. Boice

Teaching Curriculum: These truths alone: Why the Reformation Solas are essential for our faith today, Jason Helopoulos (free copies available at PRBC)

The Five Solas book series


Biographies of the Reformers
Free Daily Readings/Podcast: Here We Stand: A 31-Day Journey with the Heroes of the Reformation, Desiring God (this looks excellent!)

Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther, Roland Bainton (*a different edition is available on the PRBC Resource Rack)

Free E-Book: Portrait of Calvin, T.H.L. Parker


Writings of the Reformers
Website: The Ninety-Five Theses, Martin Luther

The Ninety-Five Theses, Martin Luther (edited by Stephen Nichols)

Free PDF: The Bondage of the Will, Martin Luther (*abridged version available on the PRBC Resource Rack)

Free PDF: Preface to the Epistle to the Romans, Martin Luther


For Kids

September 18, 2017

The Beauty of Baptism

This Sunday morning, Lord willing, we will have the privilege of witnessing five baptisms at Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church. Praise God for how He is working! And, on an occasion such as this, it is well if we ponder the spiritual beauty of what we witness when we see someone baptized. So consider, with me, three beautiful aspects of baptism:

1. Baptism is a picture.
Now, note well that baptism is only a picture. It does not wash away sins or contribute to a person’s salvation in any way. It is, rather, a portrait of what has happened already in the life of the man, women, girl, or boy who has been saved through Christ! And yet, though it is only a picture, it is indeed an important and beautiful picture! The Christian’s immersion (or burial) in water is symbolic of the marvelous reality that his or her old, sinful man has been buried with Christ! And, when that same person is then raised out of the water, we have a wonderful picture of the new, resurrection life that has been granted to everyone who is in Christ.
“We have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4)
It is because of this burial and resurrection picture that we baptize only believers (only people who have actually experienced burial and resurrection with Christ). And it is also because of this picture that we baptize by immersion (or burial) in water. For it is immersion, and not sprinkling or pouring, that actually presents to us the beautiful picture that Paul describes in Romans 6 – burial and resurrection with Jesus!

2. Baptism is an announcement.
When a person goes through the waters of baptism, he is, to the best of his ability, confirming his belief that burial and resurrection with Christ has actually taken place in his life. And the elders who take responsibility for the baptism are, to the best of their ability, confirming the same. And, since baptisms often take place in front of the gathered congregation, baptism is not only a confirmation of the saving work of God in a person’s life, but also an announcement of it as well! Baptisms are occasions for public celebration of what God has done; for joining with the angels (Luke 15:10) in the celebration of God’s saving work in the lives of those around us.

3. Baptism is a marker.
Consider the context of that baptism-as-burial-and-resurrection passage in Romans 6. What is Paul’s main point in that passage? Well, he is arguing that Christians must not go on carelessly in their sins. “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” he asks in v.2. Good question! And, to nail down the fact that Christians have, indeed, died to sin (and to remind them that Christians can, indeed, “walk in newness of life”), Paul reminds his readers (in vv.3-4) of when they were baptized, and of what baptism pictures! He carries them back to the day of baptism as a reminder that, ‘When you were baptized, the picture was that the old you was buried … and that, in Christ, a new person had come to life. So live that way! “Consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (v.11).’

And the point I am making is that Paul uses baptism as a marker in the life of the believer – as something he or she can look back on as a reminder of what God has done … and of how we should live, in light of it! And so today is an important day, for that reason, too. We are setting up a marker, as it were, in these five lives – a picture to which, Lord willing, they will always be able to look back as a portrait of what God has done in their lives … and therefore of what they are able to be and do, in Christ.