We recently completed a series of sermons from the book of 2 Timothy. Listen in, benefit, and enjoy!
2 Timothy 1:1-4:22 - Endurance in Ministry - mp3
2 Timothy 1:3-12 - Courage in Ministry - mp3
2 Timothy 1:13-2:7 - The Work of Ministry - mp3
2 Timothy 2:8-13 - The Heart of Ministry - mp3
2 Timothy 2:14-3:9 - Pitfalls in Ministry - mp3
2 Timothy 3:10-14 - Examples in Ministry - mp3
2 Timothy 3:14-4:5 - The Tools of Ministry - mp3
2 Timothy 4:6-8 - The Finish Line of Ministry - mp3
2 Timothy 4:9-22 - Fellowship in Ministry - mp3
March 27, 2017
If the Lord is willing, Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church will be transitioning to a new hymnal in the next few days. I am excited to begin using Hymns of Grace! And I thought it might be profitable, in this space, to offer some reasons why.
First I should note that we aren’t changing hymnals just for the sake of change. In other words, we didn’t first decide that we needed a new hymnal, and then go shopping, as it were, to find one we liked. What happened, rather, was the opposite. Scott (our deacon for musical worship) and I came across three new hymnal projects that really caught our attention, and which (by their quality) posed to us the possibility of a change. Hymns of Grace was one of the three, and the one we felt was the best fit for us. So it was not a desire for change that brought us to a new hymnal, but the quality of these new hymnals that brought us to a desire to change!
And here are three reasons why I am excited to begin using Hymns of Grace.
1. Selection. The hymnal has an excellent selection of theologically sound hymns, old and new. And the theology is important! God’s people often learn a good deal of their theology from the songs they sing! So we are thrilled that Hymns of Grace is chocked full with solid, singable theology! It also helps that the hymnal has a good balance of the great classics, alongside many newer selections as well! We are living in a kind of hymn-writing renaissance right now, with many wonderfully solid new hymns being written which, like Watts and Wesley, will (I believe) stand the test of time. We’ve been blessed to learn many of them already, and will be blessed to learn even more by means of the new hymnal! And it is a great boon to have these modern classics, along with so many older ones as well, all under one cover!
2. Music. Speaking of those excellent newer hymns, while we have been singing many of them from a projection screen already, it will be good to now have the music to go along with them, for those who are able to make use of it.
3. Take-Home Format. It is a great blessing (maybe the greatest of all, in my book) that all of this solid, singable theology is now available in a format that our people can take home with them, for use in personal and family devotions. We can’t do that with the songs on the screen, but we can with a hymnal! And so we are making a copy available to each PRBC household. And, as our folks make at-home use of them, this will surely add richness to our Sunday singing, introduce families to wonderful theology, and enrich private and family devotional times all with one resource!
So then, those are a few reasons I’m excited for the days ahead, and for this new opportunity in the life of our church. Pray for us in this transition, and check out Hymns of Grace for yourself.
March 20, 2017
Often times, in our Christian vernacular, we use the word ‘saved’ in the past tense – ‘I was saved on such and such a date.’ Or we might say, ‘I date my salvation to such and such a time.’ This is how we often speak of the concept of salvation – in the past tense – such that that the words ‘save’ or ‘salvation’ refer to the point in time, in the past, at which we were brought to repentance and faith in Christ, and were forgiven and declared righteous in God’s sight. We were ‘saved’ (past tense) at that point in time. And that is a right use of the term.
It’s also right to speak of salvation in the present perfect tense. We have been saved – meaning that we were forgiven and justified at some point in the past, and that those statuses (forgiven and justified) are ongoing. If we were ever forgiven, well then we are still forgiven, right? And, in the same way, God’s declaration that we are righteous in Christ happened once, at a moment in time … and such that our standing in this blessings continues! We remain forgiven and justified. And so it’s right to speak of having been saved.
But, though we often use the words ‘saved’ and ‘salvation’ as shorthand for forgiveness and justification (which happened at a past moment in time, with continuing effect) … these words (‘saved’ and ‘salvation’) can be used to describe even more than that. Our complete salvation from sin, in other words, includes more than just our initial coming to faith, and being once-and-for-all-time delivered from sin’s penalty, at some wonderful point in our past. We can also use the word ‘salvation’ to refer to the process of progressive sanctification, whereby God is presently, gradually molding us into the image of His Son. In sanctification, we are being saved (in the present) from sin’s power! And, further, the words ‘salvation’ or ‘saved’ can also be used in reference to our glorification – that future moment in time when, at death or at Christ’s return, we will be completely made like Him; when will be saved, finally, from sin’s presence in our lives!
To distill all that down, here is how theologians and Bible teachers have put into words this multi-tense unfolding of our salvation:
• In justification, we have been saved from sin’s penalty.
• In progressive sanctification, we are being saved from sin’s power.
• In glorification, we will be saved from sin’s presence.
And so, yes, it is right to say ‘I have been saved,’ or to refer back to the date of your ‘salvation.’ But it is also right to realize that, while we were forever saved, at a point and time, from sin’s penalty … God is not finished with us. He is still saving us, no longer from the penalty of sin (which has been forever done away, if we are in Christ), but He is still saving us from sin’s power! And, when our lives in this world are complete, He will finally save us, even from sin’s very presence in our lives!
We have been saved in justification. We are being saved in sanctification. And some day, marvelously, we will be saved, finally, in glorification!
And, if you like grammar, you’ll notice that those are all passive verbs! It’s not that we have saved, are saving, and will save … but that we have been saved, are being saved, and will be saved! These passive verbs refer to things done for us … not by us! “Salvation is from the Lord” (Jonah 2:9). And therefore “blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3)!
March 7, 2017
“There will be a resurrection of reputations as well as of bodies”
Isn’t that good to hear? Yes, it is true that, as followers of Christ – who was hated, plotted against, falsely accused, and crucified – so we, too, must “through may tribulations … enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). And it is also true that, among these “many tribulations,” it may be that we (both as individuals, and as the larger body of Christ) are sometimes unjustly thought ill of, looked down upon, maligned, belittled, misrepresented, and even falsely accused and scandalized. There is a real devil. And he delights to tear down the reputations of God's people – whether for their faith, or by attempting to discredit their faith. But in the judgment day; in “the great assize” as Spurgeon called it (preaching on 2 Corinthians 5:10), “there will be a resurrection of reputations as well as of bodies.” “A resurrection of reputations as well as of bodies!”
In that day, we who have been called prudish, or even bigoted, because of our stand for biblical morality, will be maligned no more (at least not outside of the gates of hell!). We who have been criticized for ‘sticking our noses in other people’s business’ because of our attempts to protect the unborn, will hear God’s “well done, good and faithful slave.” We who have been called narrow for simply taking Jesus at His word when He claims to be the only way to the Father, will be found to have been attempting to love our neighbors, not exclude them! And any of God’s people, against whom the devil has used human voices and false accusations to run a smear campaign, will be smeared no more. For as Spurgeon reminds us (quoting Jesus in Matthew 13:43): “Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” It won’t be seen, in that day, that we were perfect (for we aren’t [yet!]). But it will be seen that Christ made a difference in our lives, and that we were not what the world said of us, but what God made of us! “There will be a resurrection of reputations as well as of bodies.”
And what that means is that, though we don’t want our reputations to be unjustly torn down (any more than we want our bodies to deteriorate), it’s not the end of the world if and when it happens – whether to the individual Christian, or to the church at large. That’s not a permit, of course, for us to throw our reputations away ourselves, by ill behavior (any more than we are licensed to abuse our bodies!). But it is to say that, if people unfairly malign, misrepresent, and falsely accuse you, you are not ruined forever! Even if you go to the grave with undue discredit and criticism looming over your life; or even if the church should dwell under an unjust cloud of criticism and misrepresentation from now until kingdom come, this disrepute will not last forever. For Jesus is coming again to consummate His work of redemption! And in that day, “there will be a resurrection of reputations as well as of bodies.”