Quotes from My Readings

What Does Biblical Faith Involve?

Christian faith is more than just belief that God exists. It does not take any special gift of faith to believe in the existence of the Creator, for many people have lived and died believing that God exists even though they never became Christians.

Biblical faith involves believing also the specific promises of God. We must believe God, not simply believe in God.

As the Lord this day to strengthen your faith in His promises so that you will continue to trust in Him alone.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do you believe in a God, or do you believe God?
  2. Are you ready and willing to depend on God alone for salvation?

Resources

TableTalk Magazine  January 25, 2016

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Small Church

Are You Connected to a Biblically Minded Church? – Part 2

Evidence matters. It matters in research papers, in the courtroom, on the news, and in churches. Evidence matters because it reveals what we know, what we’ve done, or who we are. In this series, I am focusing in on that last one – who we are – in an effort to expound on the evidence of a biblically minded church (Read Part 1).

What is a Biblically Minded Church?

By a biblically minded church, I mean a church that is centered on God’s Word, so much so that God’s Word influences the way it thinks and the things it does.

What is the Evidence of a Biblically Minded Church?

I believe there is, at least, four pieces evidence of a Biblically Minded church in Colossians 1:3-14. The second piece of evidence we come across tells us,

(2) A Biblically Minded Church is Focused on Spiritual Growth

Usually, when a church talks about growth, it is referring to its numerical growth. It’s not necessarily wrong to talk about numerical growth. We all want to be a part of a church that is growing numerically. There is something exciting about new visitors coming through the door and new members joining. If you think about it, a church has to grow numerically in order for it to survive and do the work of ministry.

Numerical Growth Can’t Be Our Primary Focus

Here is the thing, however, we can’t just focus on numerical growth. We also, and more importantly, have to focus on spiritual growth. In fact, I believe spiritual growth has to be our primary focus because I believe focusing on spiritual growth is the biblical approach. I mean, think about it: Jesus, the disciples, and the apostles weren’t primarily focused on growing a big church, rather they were focused on growing people spiritually.

Jesus

Reading through the gospels, it is clear Jesus’ primary focus was spiritual growth. He wasn’t there to make people feel comfortable or to entertain them. Instead, He confronted them with their sin. He demanded His disciples deny themselves and follow Him. He demanded folks be willing to die for the spread of the gospel. With that in mind, I believe it is safe to say Jesus wasn’t necessarily focused on physical growth, but rather spiritual growth.

Paul

In our focus text, it is evident Paul wasn’t focused so much on the Colossians physical growth, as he was their spiritual growth. In verse 9, his desire is that they  be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, that they would have spiritual wisdom and understanding. In verse 10, he continues by telling them that he desires that they walk in a manner worthy of God, that they would bear fruit in every good work, and that they would increase in their knowledge of God. Then in verse 11, his desire is that they would have endurance, patience, and joy. So Paul’s focus is the spiritual growth of the Colossians.

Us

Spiritual growth must be our focus as well. We must have a strong desire to see our fellow church members grow spiritually.

Spiritual Growth Will Produce Physical Growth

Focusing on spiritual growth doesn’t necessarily mean your church won’t grow physically. Rather I believe as we focus on growing spiritually, the church will inevitably grow physically. A community of believers who are growing in their love for God, one another, and their neighbors are attractive. As a result, it will win people to Christ and to its fellowship.

I believe, then, the key to growing a church is not to focus on its numerical growth, but rather its spiritual growth.

The Benefits of Focusing on Spiritual Growth

When we focus on growing spiritually, instead of physically, we are freed up to take a stand on our beliefs, to confront others about their sin, and to preach the true gospel. We are free to do those things because our primary concern is not entertaining, it’s not making people feel comfortable, or even keeping people happy so they will stay at our church. Instead, our primary concern is their spiritual growth. Sometimes, for people to grow spiritually, they have to be confronted, which means they will probably feel a little uncomfortable. We have to be ok with them being uncomfortable for a time because we know helping them grow spiritually is what’s best for them.

Honestly, if someone is a true believer, even though it may hurt at times, they will accept correction because they know that is what’s best for them, and that you love them because you are concerned with their growth in Christ.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Are you a part of a church that seeks its people’s spiritual growth over their comfort?
  2. Have you witnessed physical growth as your church has sought spiritual growth?

Resources

Post adapted from my sermon Are We A Biblically Minded Church?

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Small Church

Are You Connected to a Biblically Minded Church? – Part 1

When I was in seminary, almost every class I took required me to write a research paper, which meant that over a two and half year period, I wrote a lot of research papers. As I soon learned, there is a certain learning curve when it comes to writing a good research paper.

I remember, at the beginning of my seminary career, turning in one paper, thinking I had done a good job. After all, I didn’t write it the night before like some of my friends. Instead, I spent weeks gathering my research, outlining, writing, and re-writing. Needless to say, when it came time to submit my paper, I did so with confidence. A few weeks later, however, my confidence was deflated when I received a less than desirable grade. As I flipped through my paper, reading my teachers comments, I discovered the main reason for my grade was a lack of evidence. Even though I had spent a lot of time on the paper, I hadn’t cited enough of my research. In other words, I hadn’t given enough evidence for my claim.

Evidence matters. It matters in research papers, in the courtroom, on the news, and in churches. Evidence matters because it reveals what we know, what we’ve done, or who we are. Focusing in on that last one – who we are. I am going to spend the next few posts expounding on the evidence of a biblically minded church.

What is a Biblically Minded Church?

By a biblically minded church, I mean a church that is centered on God’s Word, so much so that God’s Word influences the way it thinks and the things it does.

What is the Evidence of a Biblically Minded Church?

I believe there is, at least, four pieces evidence of a Biblically Minded church in Colossians 1:3-14. The first piece of evidence we come across tells us,

(1) A Biblically Minded Church Preaches the True Gospel, Resulting in True Salvation.

In this day and age, preaching is readily available. All you have to do is take out your phone or turn on the tv. A lot of what you can access, however, isn’t biblical preaching because the true gospel isn’t being proclaimed. Instead, in its place might be a prosperity gospel, which is centered on health, wealth, and material possessions. A gospel of social justice which is centered on eradicating oppression. Or a progressive/liberal gospel which denies the inerrancy or truthfulness of Scripture and teaches that Christianity is just one of many ways to experience the Divine.

The True Gospel

In contrast to these false gospels, a biblically minded church preaches and teaches the true gospel. One that is derived from Scripture. It is what Paul calls in verse 5 “the word of truth.” Throughout the book of Colossians, he expounds on the gospel, but a good summary is found beginning in verse 12,

“giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Col 1:12–14)

The true gospel, on the one hand, doesn’t shy away from the bad news, which tells us that before we turn to Christ we are sinners who live in the domain of darkness. As a residence of that domain, we live in rebellion against God. As rebels, we deserve punishment in hell for all eternity.

On the other hand, the true gospel doesn’t leave out the good news either. It tells us that God in His grace and Mercy sent His Son to pay the penalty for our sins. All those who believe that Jesus is their Savior, repent of their sins and turn to follow Jesus are forgiven. They are redeemed from the wrath of God, are adopted into God’s family, and have the bondage of sin and death broken as they are transferred from one kingdom to another, where they will live for all eternity with Jesus as their King.

That is the true gospel, the good news that actually gives us hope. That’s the message you will hear in a biblically minded church.

The result of consistently preaching the true gospel is true conversions.

People’s lives and hearts are truly changed. The sin they once enjoyed is cast off. The desires they once had fades away. The things they once worshiped are broken and thrown out. The life lived for self, turns into a life lived for God.

Of course, this doesn’t happen immediately. Instead, it happens over a lifetime as one consistently follows Jesus. But it does happen. Those who have truly been converted do grow to be more Christlike over their Christian lives.

So that’s the first piece of evidence of a biblically minded church — it preaches the true gospel resulting in true conversions.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Are you apart of a church that preaches the true gospel?
  2. Have you witnessed true conversions in your church?

Resources

Post adapted from my sermon Are We A Biblically Minded Church?

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