Friday, February 22, 2008

Revival Review (3 of 5)

Eternal security-- the doctrine that once you trust Christ for salvation you cannot lose it-- was the topic of discussion on the third night of our church's revival conference, February 10-13.

Dr. J.B. Hixson, Executive Director of the Free Grace Alliance, and our conference speaker, offered seven reasons why once a person is saved by Christ, they are always saved:

Logical Proof-- John 3:16 promises "everlasting life" to whoever believes. But if salvation can be lost, eternal life is really conditional, temporary life, and not everlasting.

Biblical Proof-- Ephesians 1:13-14, 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, John 10:28-30, Romans 8:31-39.

Theological Proof-- Eternal salvation is a work of God (Eph 1:13-14). Eternal salvation is thus dependent upon the work of God and not the works of men (Rom 5:12-21). Works are not a requirement for eternal salvation (Eph 2:8-9; Titus 3:5). Eternal salvation cannot be earned (cf. Matt 5:20; Rom 9:30-10:4).

Legal Proof-- Justification, a term Paul uses often in Romans, describes how the believing sinner is credited with the righteousness of Jesus Christ (Rom 4:5; 5:1; 10:4). To say that someone could become unsaved after being saved would be to say that God changed His mind or reneged on His ruling.

Divine Declarative Proof-- Eternal life is staked upon the promises made by God the Son and God the Father, who does not lie (Titus 1:2).

Exegetical Proof-- In Romans 8:31, Paul refers to all those who have been justified as having also been glorified (aorist tense). The aorist tense in Greek (the original language of the New Testament) speaks of a past action with a continuing effect. Yet, the actual glorification of Christians does not take place until they arrive in heaven. By using the aorist tense, Paul is assuring the arrival of all Christians in heaven.

Hereditary Proof-- The moment a person believes the gospel, he is adopted into the family of God (Rom 8:15-17; Gal 4:4-5). He becomes a child of God (1 John 3:1). To say that salvation can be lost is to speak of disowning a member of the family.

The bottom line? Salvation does not depend on us, but rests in the promises of God.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Revival Review (2 of 5)

"What's so amazing about grace?"

Author Philip Yancy once asked this question, in the form of a book title, in response to John Newton's famous song, "Amazing Grace." Helping my church family answer the question was Dr. J.B. Hixson, Executive Director of the Free Grace Alliance. J.B. was guest speaker at our Revival Conference, February 10-13.

What is grace? A great place to start biblically is Ephesians 2. J.B. described it in a number of ways, but here is the most memorable:

od's Riches At Christ's Expense.

God's-- Grace originates with God
Riches-- Grace is extremely valuable
Christ-- Grace comes through Jesus Christ
Expense-- Grace is expensive.

Grace is amazing because God makes salvation available as a free gift. In fact, God delights in giving His gift of eternal life to those who don't deserve it. The gift is free to us, but it cost Jesus his life on the cross.

Amazing indeed!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Revival Review (1 of 5)

What is the Gospel? How is this "good news" being presented today?

That was the subject of the first in a series of revival messages at the Little River Congregational Church, February 10-13, presented by Dr. J.B. Hixson, Executive Director of the Free Grace Alliance.

In a message entitled, "The Gospel: Kaleidoscope or Microscope?" Dr. Hixson outlined six mistaken gospel models that are propagated in our postmodern society:

The Purpose Gospel-- The hope of this gospel focuses exclusively on the present age, like better relationships, less stress, more meaningful purpose, etc. Good stuff, but there's no mention of the afterlife-- heaven or hell-- nor emphasis on personal accountability to God.

The Puzzling Gospel-- What people should believe in order to be a Christian is not really made clear or is presented in contradictory ways. A lot of people live in this muddy puddle. Are you a Christian? The best they can answer is, "I'm trying."

The Prosperity Gospel-- A popular message that promises material riches with "name it and claim it" formulas. Again, it focuses on this world alone and obligates God to things He doesn't promise.

The Pluralistic Gospel-- All religions are equally valid pathways to heaven. Jesus is the normal path to heaven, but not the necessary path.

The Performance Gospel-- Believing in Jesus requires you either clean up your life before you believe or you must demonstrate a certain number of good works after you believe. Either way, salvation is in part dependent upon what you do.

The Promise-Only Gospel-- This gospel invites people to believe in Jesus, but without explaining who Jesus is and what He did. Knowing who He is and what He did isn't essential.

Finally, Dr. Hixson explained the "good news" message that best summarizes all the biblical data:

The Pure Gospel-- This gospel proclaims these essential elements:
  • Jesus Christ-- This person is at the center of the Gospel message.
  • Jesus' Identity-- He is the Son of God. In other words, deity with a unique relationship to God.
  • Jesus' Work-- He died on the cross and rose again on the third day.
  • Jesus' Accomplishment-- His death and resurrection pays your personal sin penalty and makes available to you the righteousness of God.
  • Jesus' Offer-- He offers you the free gift of eternal life, which you may receive by putting your faith in Him.
The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 declares that the gospel that saves is the message about the death and resurrection of Jesus. More than 160 times, the Bible calls us to "believe" this good news. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus alone (Ephesians 2).

So why did this exposition start off our revival conference?

Simply this.

When you know and appreciate what God did for you in Christ, then you can really rejoice, give thanks, and be revived.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Revival Conference Concludes

Last night our church concluded our revival conference with my friend Dr. J.B. Hixson, Executive Director of the Free Grace Alliance.

We talked about grace, eternal security, getting into God's Word, and eternal rewards.

Church family, your support for the revival was so wonderful-- from dinners drop off at the house to outstanding attendance each night.

In this Sunday's message, I'll summarize our time and answer the question, "What now." And here on this blog, I'll post on what we discussed each session.

Until then, here's a funny story.

On Tuesday I took J.B. to the Kansas Underground Museum. He really enjoyed the chance to go down 650 feet into the earth and discover the history of salt mining in Hutchinson.

Afterwards, we went to a Mexican restaurant for lunch. As we got out of the car, J.B. said, "I'm paying." I replied, "No, I am." When we ordered, we each told the waitress that we were to get the ticket.

After the meal, the waitress gave the bill to J.B. I asked him, "Why did she give the bill to you?" He answered, "I told her to give the check to the best looking guy." So I retorted, "That's funny. Because I told her to give it to the ugliest guy at the table."

I guess we'll never know who the waitress listened to.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Powers Meet

Here's a pretty amazing picture from the Daily Mail.

This is the largest statue of Jesus in the world-- located in Brazil.

The power of nature and the power of Christ meet!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Revival Conference Weekend

This weekend, the Little River Congregational Church is holding a revival conference, starting Sunday and continuing through Wednesday.

Dr. J.B. Hixson, Executive Director of the Free Grace Alliance and a former classmate of mine at Dallas Theological Seminary, will answer the question, "What's so amazing about grace" and show us how grace is central to our relationship and walk with Jesus Christ.

If you live in the area, this my personal invitation for you to attend.

The other week, a church member confessed that he was somewhat spooked about our upcoming revival. He asked, "What's going to happen?"

I honestly had to say, "I really don't know." I know that over the next few nights, we'll do some singing, praying, and listening to God's Word. Humanly speaking, I know what we're doing. But how it impacts us-- that I don't know. That's up to God. My prayer is that when we eventually look back on the revival, we'll know that it was historically significant in our church's life.

I also told my friend that I hope being "spooked" means a willingness to be vulnerable before God. Jesus says in John 3:8 that "the wind blows wherever it wills... so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." As Kansans, we know that wind is unpredictable. Likewise, while God's ways are always biblical, they are not always predictable. When He surprises us, my guess is He's trying to get our attention and draw us closer to Him.

In C.S. Lewis' masterpiece, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Lucy is about to meet Aslan, the hero who saves the Kingdom of Narnia. When Lucy learns from Mrs. Beaver that Aslan is a lion, she utters, "Ooh! I thought he was a man. Is he quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion." Mrs. Beaver replies, "Nervous you will be dearie, make no mistake. Who said anything about being safe. Course he isn't safe. But he is good."

Who knows what God will do during a revival conference. One thing is for sure though. Whatever happens, it'll be good.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Paper Shredder

Recently I bought a paper shredder for the church office. It's now my favorite toy.

The box said the machine would shred up to 8 pieces of paper at a time. What it didn't say-- and I have since discovered-- is that a paper shredder offers free therapy.

Frustrated about something? Run a piece of paper through the shredder.

The whirl of the motor, the grinding of the blades, and the sound of paper getting destroyed is sweet music to the ears. With the shredder, you get a passive-aggressive moment with your problems. If those annoying situations won't go away, at least you can visualize their eventual end.

God and His Word is the first place to go when you have a problem.

But the next place I'm going to is the shredder.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Links to the Intergoogle

Good News-- Notorious late term abortionist George Tiller has been ordered to turn over redacted medical records to a grand jury investigating whether he broke Kansas law. And the judge is none too happy about Tiller's continued stall tactics.

More Delays-- The Kansas Supreme Court has temporarily blocked the grand jury's access to redacted medical records. What's Tiller hiding?

Thought Provoking-- Professor Walter Berns of Georgetown University argues that support of the death penalty is tied to belief in God.

Funny-- This winter has made Idaho resident Douglas Wilson tired of shoveling global warming.

Interesting-- A map of the world that's sized not according to land mass, but population size.

Influential-- C.J. Mahaney discusses 4 books that have influenced his understanding of the cross.

Getting Better-- Suicide bombings in Israel are down for a reason.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Great Game, Boring Commercials

Yep, Super Bowl XLII lived up to the hype.

Since the Bengals weren't playing, all I hoped for was a close and entertaining game. We got that.

Manning's Houdini-like escape and David Tyree's 32 yard leaping catch was incredible.

The Super Bowl commercials were pretty boring. My favorite though was the Charles Barkley - Dwayne Wade one, where Barkley constantly calls and talks off Wade's ear.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Local Coach Picks Up Win # 500

Congratulations to Shane Cordell, girls basketball coach of Little River High School. He won his 500th game last night, when Little River defeated Peabody-Burns, 54-29. Video highlights of the game and the celebration afterwards are available here.

Cordell told CatchItKansas:
"It's kind of the milestone you think about," he said. "It means a lot to finally do it. It was never a goal I had. But I've been here quite a while, and when you just do your job, some things start to happen. When I reflect back on all the girls who played and all the people who helped the program for years - I hope they got some enjoyment out of it too."
The Kansas Sports Hall of Fame credits Cordell's Little River teams with numerous state records. Among them:

* Most consecutive wins - 91 from 1994 to 1998.
* Most wins in a season - 28 in 1997.
* Most consecutive undefeated seasons - three from 1995 to 1997.
* Most consecutive state championships - four from 1995 to 1998.
* Widest average margin of victory for a season - 40.9 points a game in 1996.

Cordell's basketball coaching record is 500-183.

Shane is a class act who has blessed our community for a number of years.

I hope he's still coaching when my kids get to high school!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Parable of the Race

In an article expressing concerns about properly applying the doctrine, "once saved, always saved," C. Michael Patton at Parchment and Pen tells this memorable story:
“In a town of boredom called Mundane, there was a great announcement. It was the announcement of a race. A great race that all could enter. A race that would rescue them from boredom. Most people did not believe that such an event would be held in Mundane so they scoffed. Others immediately prepared with great enthusiasm and joy.

Both the scoffers and the enthusiasts arrived at the appointed place on the day of the race. The scoffers sat and watched while the others prepared to run by stretching and making sure their shoes were tied. They lined up looking ahead with the intensity, fear, and excitement that accompanied such an event.

The gun sounded and off they went. Yet something very curious and unexplainable happened. They all stopped running after they had passed the starting line. Not only this, but they acted very peculiar. One person fell on his knees crying, thanking God that he crossed the starting line. Others gave each other high fives and hugs shouting, “Hooray, we are now race runners, we are now race runners.” Some shook hands and congratulated each other. One group relaxed and complemented one another on how well they crossed the starting line. Five or six others all gathered together and formed a prayer circle. They prayed that others would cross the starting line as they had.

Many others wanted to experience this joy so they decided to start the race as well. They were immediately stopped by the well-wishers who had started before them. They decided to stay as well. After a few days, there were people handing out pamphlets along with a certificate to all those who crossed the starting line. The pamphlet told them that once they had started the race they were guaranteed to finish. The certificate was to recognize their achievement in finishing the race even before they finished.

After a month or so, there were so many who had crossed the starting line that they decided to build a town right there. They called this town “Starting Line.”

The spectators were confused. “I thought a race had to be finished,” they said to one another. They interviewed the people of Starting Line. “Why did you start the race and not continue?” they would ask. This made the people of Starting Line very uncomfortable. They would immediately show their certificate saying that they were guaranteed to finish. When people would encourage them to run the rest of the race, they would be ridiculed for not trusting God. They were called legalists and were accused of trusting too much in their own ability to finish the race.

Finally, many in the crowd became fed up with those in Starting Line and began to run the race without them.”