MGA Church. Pastor Glen Forsberg.
Fellowship Baptist Church. Pastor Brent Carter
Fm Alliance. Pastor Val Johnson
Family Christian Center
Emmanuel Baptist Church
MGA Church. Pastor Glen Forsberg.
Fellowship Baptist Church. Pastor Brent Carter
Fm Alliance. Pastor Val Johnson
Family Christian Center
Emmanuel Baptist Church
I had the oppertunity to head down to Interplay for the Kaos World Stage this weekend. I had gone to the interdenominational service last year, which was pretty hit or miss for me, and so I was pretty much expecting more or the same. To that end, I found myself pleasently surprised at the time I had.
I’m of the mind that interdenominational/ecumenical services can be either wonderful or wretched. Wonderful because I love when the visible church gathers and can glorify God across denominational lines and despite important [or unimportant] doctrinal distinctives. Wretched because oftentimes it forces you to gear your message to the lowest common denominator- and Christ invariably gets lost in that.
I didn’t get that sense from this one though. As far as I can tell there was no real “message”. Last year Rick Kirchner gave an 8 minute talk geared towards evangelism, which had its strenghts and weaknesses. This year it was primarily a two hour long mixed worship session, showcasing talents from multiple churches and from multiple people. And I really, really enjoyed it.
I’m of the mind that not only was this thing not about me, but it also wasn’t for me. It was about worshipping God. To that end I think they were very successful.
*note, the video screen drops because i was momentarily distracted talking to someone.
Emmanuel Baptist Church./ A.M. Sermon Here. P.M. Sermon Here
McMurray Gospel Assembl./ A.M Sermon Here
Family Christian Centre./ A.M. Sermon Here
Fort McMurray Alliance Church./ A.M. Sermon Here
Not many sermons posted this week. As usual I’ll try to update over the course of the week for the other usual suspects [Alliance, FBC, etc]
Weekend of Sunday July 17, 2011
Fort McMurray Alliance Church. Bonnie Hodge
Family Christian Centre. Pastor Brian Bursey
Fellowship Baptist Church. Pastor Brent Carter
Emmanuel Baptist Church. Pastor D.A Glenon
Morning service. Evening service
MGA is a bit behind and have not posted their sermon yet, but I will update this page as soon as they do so.
Pastor Edwin Rideout of the Family Christian Center is three sermons into a sermon series that’ effectively dealing with the issue of the events of the end times, specifically those revolving around the kingdom of Christ coming. Throughout the sermon series he seeks to convey certain things, all through an understanding of what the eternal kingdom is, and the mechanisms of the final system that in its evil and rebellion will come against the kingdom, resulting in the events of the end time.
A bit more specifically, he delves into issues such as what the final system is, talking about the second coming, the antichrist, the tribulation. He spends a fair amount of time making the case that the system that will be used by God is the false, demonic religion known as Islam. That through the rise, spread, and propagation of Islam- and because of the enmity between Jacob and Esau that was foreshadowed in the scriptures, that the Muslims will play an integral role in the end times. We are told that the Koran is a demonic book, that Islam teaches evil and has evil intentions, and that more than likely, with the build up of the Muslim population in Russia, that Russia will arm the Middle East and the Muslim nations with weapons, who will then attack Israel in the battle of Armageddon. The Muslim and Islamic system is what Satan will use to destroy Israel, and one might say that the Lord is using Russia and the Muslim Middle-East nations as instruments of God’s judgment and wrath- against themselves.
While I am anxious to hear more of the matter, to see how this sermon series culminates, I don’t have much of a review to do perse, but I did want to share some thoughts, for a reason. Primarily to offer this as an example of an area where we can utterly and completely disagree, and it doesn’t mean it has to blow into some big thing. Because here’s the deal- I don’t have the same eschatological views as he does. I don’t care at all about end-time issues, partly because I don’t see what sort of benefit, relevance or impact having anything other than a broad understanding of it could possibly have on my life. Eschatology for me is a long, winding and confusing road, and I think this is probably one of those rare times when almost any interpretation could very well be valid.
If I had to classify myself, I would say that I am more than likely some form of quasi-partial preterist/ historicist, who believes that most of the book of revelation was fulfilled prior to 70AD. I don’t believe in a rapture [and in fact, would suggest that if we examine the biblical record, that as far as scenarios are reflected, that you WANT to be left behind. That is to say, throughout the context of the scriptures Jesus uses judgment language reminiscent of the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem and the subsequent exile of its inhabitants. Those who were taken away were the ones judged by God whereas those left behind were the remnant who received grace.]
That’s what I essentially believe, but I wouldn’t start a new church over it. Furthermore, unless it bled into the rest of their theology in some really destructive and sinister ways, I fully believe this is a tertiary issue that would not affect how I view a Church. I’m not going to write a post critiquing his use of scripture interpretation regarding this sort of thing. That is, in my mind, very unfruitful. I have my opinions, but I could very well be wrong. I hold eschatological ideas very loosely. Part of that comes from surveying the history of the world since the ascendancy of Christ. People say that we are in the end times, and I do believe that in a general sense- that Christ will return one day for his bride. Absolutely. But there is nothing about this time that stands apart or is unique from any other time in history. We are not more evil or more depraved. The world is not worse now that it has been at different epochs throughout history. Immorality is not more widespread that it has been in the past. Nothing about this time in 2011 would leave me to believe that we are anything special.
We don’t know what would be the geo-political situation if Christ should tarry for a few thousand years. Perhaps we’ll have had several world wars by then which will have essentially ravaged and scorched the earth. Perhaps North America will have become the new mecca and the new Muslim power. Perhaps we will be living on Mars and the population of the world will have been decimated to a few thousand people living in underground colonies. Perhaps Islam will have died out- gone the way of the ancient Greek gods and mythos, and a new world religion will reign that Islam will pale in comparison to.
Who knows. I don’t think I or anyone knows, nor do I think Pastor Edwin knows. For that reason I would caution him to frame his thoughts in terms of educated or probable guesses, possible interpretations instead of assured fact. But even if he wants to roll that way- that’s his prerogative. This is not something worth dividing about. This is not something worth parsing on my end. For that reason, in that context and approaching them with that mindset, I find these sermons to be informative, educational, and edifying. I certainly share his concerns over the Muslim faith and its increasing rise to prominence. I too consider the Koran to be a demonically inspired and don’t believe Allah to be Jehovah in any way shape or form. I pray for people trapped in Islam, that they might repent of their false religion and be forgiven of their sins so that they might have eternal life. I also find this to be an imminently courageous sermon to preach, and look forward to hearing the rest.
Are there certain things we could remove from our belief system and the power of the gospel would not be necessarily affected by it?” This is a question that this Church has been asking as they are going through their sermon series on the essentials of the faith and as they preach on the primary, secondary, and tertiary issues of the faith. In a very real way they are drawing lines in the sand regarding which issues they will not budge on, and of which are of utmost importance. One of those essential, non-negotiable issues is the atonement. And though he does not say the words, it seems he is describing penal substitutionary atonement. In fact, within the first five minutes he decries the false atonement theologies of Stephen Chalke and Brian McLaren, men who have dismissed the historical orthodox view of the atonement as cosmic child abuse. Pastor Edwin states that the doctrine of atonement is under fierce attack from the enemy, and it is clear that the man is ready to battle.
Early on we get two verses. Hebrews 10:19-23 “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” and Romans 5:6-8 ” For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.
Pastor Edwin states “There’s not a statement in the Bible this morning that declares that God died for us in the person of his Son the lord Jesus Christ because we were so valuable. There’s nothing in the Bible that talks about the fact that we were critical to the mission and therefore God must come. No. The reason that God sent his son the Lord Jesus Christ to die for us speaks to us not about how valuable we are, but it speaks about and exalts the love of God. It exalts the character of God. It speaks about the omnipotence of God. Of the compassion of God and the mercies of God. Although yes we are the primary target that God sets out to redeem, the atonement first and foremost displays the character of God….In God redeeming us what he is doing is he is upholding himself, he is displaying his own glory before the universe. He is displaying his own attributes of mercy and compassion and grace.” [What a fantastic quote!]
He references 1 Peter 2:24 and John 12:32-33 and speaks more of the atonement, about how all other false gods and false religious leaders like Mohammed may have had redeemable qualities to them, but they did not die for us and take away our sins. They were never able to do so, and regardless of what sort of precepts and qualities they had in their faith systems, only the perfect, sinless Christ qualifies to take away our sins, and that Jesus Christ was received into the presence of God and is in heaven making intercession for us.
He says that those who repent of their sin and put their faith in Christ are born again. They become new creations and receive eternal life, and while so many people believe it, he suspects that many of them don’t really believe it. Insomuch as it relates to sin, he says “If we truly believed in it, the power of the life that is in Christ would come into us and it would break the power of sin in our being . It’s something that must happen in the Spirit, where the Spirit from man yields up his own authority and his own will to the Spirit of God. And it can only come as an act of the Spirit in our lives.” [this is by faith]
Buttressing his position, he offers a few definitions on the atonement, concluding that the atonement was necessary to satisfy the demands of the law, and it has legal implications and legal language. We have broken the law. The penalty is death. Christ needs to pay the price. The words “It is finished” that Christ uttered on the cross mean that “It is paid in full” and that no man will ever have to die for his sins again if he believes in Christ. He talks a bit about the Old Testament allusions to the sacrifices of bulls and goats for the covering of sin, and the mercy seat in heaven whereby Christ sprinkled his own blood on the altar once and for all to actually pay for sin. He says that the atonement is essential and it complete emasuclates Christianity if we remove it. Without Jesus atoning work there is no hope for a man, and outside of Christ there is no other sacrifice that is acceptable to the Father.
He leaves us with a quote by Dr. Ian Paisley “Ours is a bloodstained message. In the divine eyes, the heavens are bloodmarked, the earth is bloodmarked and the elect are bloodmarked. We bow before a bloodstained throne. Once a fiery throne of judgment, now by blood a mercy seat. The church is a bloodstained church, purchased with a price most precious- the blood of God’s dear Son. Our bible is a bloodstained book. Prick the body of heavenly divinity anywhere, and out pours lifetide of Emmanuel, Christ. The bible is a crimson book. Heaven is a bloodstained heaven into which our redeemer has entered. Our access to God is by a bloodstained path and Christ’s bloodmarks guide us to the throne. Our songs are the blood-stained songs recounting the liberating power of calvarys blood shedding.”
This was a fantastic and imminently quotable sermon. It could use a few tweaks, such as including the wrath of God being satisfied on the cross, a theme which is central to the atonement and to salvation, but other that the subject matter and the presentation were top notch. It seemed to me that what may have started out as a calculated, precise presentation and defence quickly denigrated into the spiritual equivalent of a brawl. It was jabs and thrusts and slashes about the wonder of the atonement, the goodness of the atonement, the importance of the atonement, and the damnation absent the atonement. I liked it. Clearly the man is passionate about it, and that was evident in his preaching. I also appreciate that he was willing to name names, and call out men like Chalke and MaClaren for the false teachers that they are.
What I especially loved was his presentation of the purpose of the atonement. I completely agree and have believed that for years, and so what a fresh air to be taught that it isn’t chiefly about you. Because listen, God didn’t save you because he just loved so soooo much and he couldn’t live without you. There’s this idea that God is so infatuated with you that he just wants to be invited into your heart, and that if he didn’t have you as his human friend, well gosh darn-it, he wouldn’t know what to do with himself. You all know that’s true. So many people give the impression that God created us because he was so lonely and sad and miserable without us, and he just needed someone to love, and it’s almost like we’re doing him a favour when we ask him into our life. Nothing could be further from the truth though! When God saves us, the glory is not ours, but his. He saves because he is good and merciful, and he sent Christ to die so that his name would be magnified and praised, not so that he could have another friend in heaven to play with and who would like him and so he can be loved even more.
As well, what a great quote by Dr Ian Paisley. That sort of thing really makes me think, and I become aware of how little emphasis we put on the blood of Christ in our practical, every day lives. I don’t want a sanitized and sterilized faith, but rather I want something real and genuine and with all the beautiful, terrible gore that had to have been manifested for my sins to be forgiven. Because I don’t tend to connect well or appreciate when I get a message stripped down and deconstructed and devoid of the power of the cross and the truth of the magnitude of the payment required for my sins. In my own life, it’s hard to die to self when I’m constantly being told it’s all about me. It’s hard to die to self when I’m made to feel just a little lower than the one who died for me. It’s hard to die to self when I’m not faced with the gravity of the completeness of that death and my utterly desperate need for it. Thankfully this sermon didn’t not point me inward to myself, but pointed me outward to God. I never once got the impression that it was all about me and for that I’m grateful. And so all in all, very well done.
The sermon begins with giving a brief overview of the previous sermon, which was about essentials and non-essentials of the faith. We are told that there are some beliefs that are critical to our faith while others are secondary or tertiary issues which are not vital. Pastor Edwin offers three category of beliefs, the first of which are the essential beliefs which are non negotiable. These are beliefs where if we did not have them, Christianity would have no power or significance or point. [Christ being God in human flesh and actually rising from the dead for our sins] The second are important beliefs which are beliefs that define our faith [ie. theological distinctive like water baptism by immersion or speaking in tongues] but in which the power of the Gospel is in no way hindered if these are not promoted or believed. The last category are peripheral beliefs. These are the tertiary issues like worship style, dress codes, etc, and are in no way critical or even important to the faith. In this, we need to start become knowledgeable and adept at being able to articulate the essentials when proselytizing and evangelizing while being able to lay down the ones that don’t matter for the sake of the Gospel.
One of the essential issues though is a right understanding of sin. He says that we are born in sin and we need a Saviour and that we need to understand the doctrine of sin so we can understand the gospel of Jesus. [Right!] And that’s one of the issues in the church today, that we talk a lot about love, grace, and worship but not a lot about sin. The main text he uses is Romans 6:15-18 “What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” [Wonderful verses to exegete]
We are told that at the time, because Paul talked so much about grace, people thought that the more they sinned the more grace they would get, so they were sinning a whole lot. We may chuckle at the inane logic, but many of us live our lives the same way. Most of us have sin in our lives that we don’t deal with because we know that grace covers it, so we become indifferent and tolerant of it. But Paul doesn’t want us to be constantly engaging it in but rather free from it. If we let sin rule our lives, in a very real way we become slaves to sin, and this is a terrible thing to happen, especially because we have been delivered to a new doctrine of slavery to sin, which is a doctrine of liberty where we are no longer ruled or constrained by sin.
In an effort to define sin, he looks at several uses of it in the Old and New Testament. Genesis 38:7 Bad. Exodus 3:13 Wicked. Hosea 4:15 Guilt. 1 Samuel 3:13 Iniquity. Ezekiel 48:11 Wandered away. 1 Kings 8:15 Rebellious in nature. Romans 13:3 Sin is bad. Matthew 5:45 Evil. Romans 1:18 Godless. Matthew 5:24 Guilt and Shame. 1 Corinthians 6:18 Unrighteousness. 1 Timothy 2:9 Lawlessness. Romans 5:14 Transgression. Romans 1:13. Ignorance. Galatians 6:1 Falling away. 1 Timothy 4:2 Hypocrite. He tells us that these say something about sin, which is that sin is primarily to be understood as disobedience to God, both through sins of commission [things that we do] and sins of omission [things that we fail to do]. We are told that from this we learn there is a clear standard which sin violates.
Talking about that standard a bit, he quotes Romans 3:23, which says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The thing is, because we are sinful and selfish, we don’t want to hold to God’s standard but rather make our own to which we may be accountable to. We can try this all we want though, and it won’t make it so, as God’s standard exists nonetheless. At one point Jesus knocked the Pharisees for misunderstanding the law. There were 10 Commandments, and they turned this into 613. But the point that needs to be made is that they are not all separate laws but rather are of one complete spirit- are one cohesive unit. The whole thing is a reflection of God, and the law is not merely outward actions but consists of what is inside the heart.
Pastor Edwin offers a quote by Martin Lloyd Jones: “A gospel which merely offers Jesus as a friend and offers a new life without repentance is not New Testament evangelism.” Pastor Edwin says, “The essence of evangelism is to start by preaching the law, and it is because the law has not been preached that we have so much superficial evangelism, and so many saints comfortable with sin. True evangelism must begin by teaching the law. In the Gospel, mankind is confronted with the holiness of God, by his demands, and also by the consequence of sins. It is the son of God Himself who speaks about being cast into hell if one allows sin to reign.”
So what is the Christian to do? We have to be immersed in holiness. The actions associated with sinning are not the issue but rather they are symptoms of the issue which is sin in their heart and mind. Sin is vicious, destroys, and is powerful, and what happens is that if we are not careful, we will get comfortable with it without realizing that we are in bondage and have become a prisoner to it.
We need to stop negotiating sin and tolerating it. Instead, we must master it. How do we do it? How do we wrestle and deal with it? The answer is that we must be determined and focused and deliberate. We cannot be comfortable with it but rather must fight and strain against it, which is not a battle for the weak. He says, “We are called to to love God with our whole minds, hearts, souls, minds. The word of God calls us to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart with all thy soul with all thy mind with all thy body. Every part of our being. All aspects of our faculties must be involved in this exercise- loving God.” We must be theocentric, which is a worldview that has God at the center, and not anthropocentric, in which man is the center of our universe. To battle sin our entire being must be committed to reflecting the image of God.
This isn’t about legalism though. We are told that you don’t have to earn your salvation, and in fact that you can’t. You can’t do anything to make God love you more or less, as Christ has already procured our salvation. Through Adam sin entered the world, and through Christ life entered the world. He offers these verses: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.” James 4:7-9. and shares some thoughts on them, how we are born in sin and need a Savior, how we must fight and battle sin, we need to mourn over it and not be content in our slavery to it, and lastly that we must pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to root out the sin in our lives.
This is a good sermon, though it has some problems. To start off, I liked the summary of the nature of essential and non-essential beliefs, and how we must really pick and choose which battles we’ll fight and which hill we’ll die on. As well the whole of the sermon, save for one part, is really doctrinally sound, and you get the distinct impression that he knows what he speaks of, and that confidence and that surety really shine. In a way the sermon in many respects is just so…”matter of fact.” That’s what struck me the whole time I was listening to it- that it was almost like listening to a Creed being recited. In any case, the doctrine of sin is such a huge and important part of our faith, and rightfully understanding it is crucial to rightfully understanding the Gospel. He spends some time waxing on the importance of the law, and I think he has it right. Salvation isn’t for good people who simply want to go to heaven but rather for people who know they have transgressed God’s law and need forgiveness. That’s so huge. How often do we hear altar calls and Gospel messages that don’t even contain one word about our sin?
I think the vast majority of people who believe in heaven believe they will go there if they are good people and haven’t murdered anyone. That’s pretty much the standard. Heaven is for people who believe in God and are “good people,” and everyone thinks that’s them and that they’re good people so of course they’re going to go there. But that idea is completely unBiblical, and billions of people are going to find themselves in hell when they die because they thought the standard was being a nicer person than their neighbour, when in reality the standard is the sinless life of Jesus. The standard is impossible to ever achieve, which is why we need the saving work of Christ, which is why I think Pastor Edwin has it right, and why preaching the law is a good starting point- because everyone buckles under it. Everyone. The law’s purpose is to condemn and to show us that we can’t keep it, and it does so perfectly. The law is a terror to the soul; it is both a blade and a light and it splays open the heart to expose every drop of wickedness. It shines upon every deep sin that we hold dear, to show that we can never claim, in any sense of the word, to be good but rather we’re still men and women in desperate and inestimable need of a Savior.
And so for the majority of the sermon I was on board for it. I was enjoying it immensely and enjoying have the Gospel expounded upon so confidently. I agree that we need to destroy sin. In fact, I think most people are way too lax with it, myself included. Pastor Edwin says, “We need to stop negotiating sin and tolerating it. Instead, we must master it. How do we do it? How do we wrestle and deal with it? The answer is that we must be determined and focused and deliberate. We cannot be comfortable with it but rather must fight and strain against it, which is not a battle for the weak.” and I completely agree. Very rarely are we encouraged to so ferociously seek to cut it out and excise it from our bodies and minds, and so this is great, timely advice. In John Owen’s “The Mortification of Sin in Believers” (1646) he writes:
“Do you mortify;
do you make it your daily work;
be always at it while you live;
cease not a day from this work;
be killing sin or it will be killing you.”
And so he correctly diagnosed the problem, which is sin, but the solution he offers is not good news at all but rather amounts to little more than more law. He says, “The word of God calls us to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind, with all thy body. Every part of our being. All aspects of our faculties must be involved in this exercise.” That’s the solution- Just love God more. When you sin, just love God harder and faster and louder and with more sincerity and you’ll overcome sin. One question though- how is that good news?
As Christians we are simul iustes et peccator, that is, at the same time righteous and a sinner. Because of this, though we walk in progressive sanctification, and we slowly conform to the image of Jesus by putting to death sin, we will never be free of it. We are condemned by the law, and this pastor knows this, and that is why THE SOLUTION CANNOT BE MORE LAW! Because here is the dirty little secret that we rarely get told- the command to love God is the Law. The command to love God with your entire being and to love your neighbour as yourself is the quintessential summary of the entire Mosaic law. That is the law stripped down to it’s bare essence, and it is NOT achievable. Saying the solution to the sin problem is just to love God and love others is just like telling a man dying of thirst in the desert to just “Drink more water.” You can’t, and it’s just a recipe for despair and disillusionment.
That is why you need the Gospel to accompany the law. That is why grace is ever-present and ever-penetrating. When you tell people to love God with their WHOLE mind and WHOLE body and WHOLE soul and WHOLE heart, you might as well quote them Matthew 5:48. You must, therefore, be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” and expect them to be able to follow that. No! Love is the law, and instead of the law the Gospel must be the lifeblood and warm blanket that covers and soaks heat into that cold body of death that cannot stop sinning. People don’t need to hear and accept the Gospel once and then they are set and good for the rest of the life. Instead because we sin daily, we need the good news of the Gospel daily, and the good news is that our sins have been forgiven past, present, and future, and that though we sin God is exceedingly pleased with us.
So I suppose that begs the question: How then do I practically battle with sin? I’ll be answering that very thing in a post in a day or two. But for now, 90% of the sermon was really good, and for that kudos are in order.