Category Archives: fellowship baptist church

Jesus sees us as we could be, not as we are??

The Fellowship Baptist Church, in keeping with its tradition of putting up church signs, has one that reads “Jesus sees us as we could be, not as we are”. And what I wanted to do today is ask the question -is that true? I’m not trying to kneecap anybody, but I am hoping to have some robust dialogue on this point.

I’ve been thinking about that sign and trying to put the best construction on things. I’ve been rolling it around in my head as verses of scriptures hiss and pop in my mind, trying to uncover all the nuances of such an expression. It’s possible it could mean different things to different audiences, but the fact that it is posted publicly for both believers and unbelievers to see and interpret in their own way limits its ability to be nuanced. While I think the perception and misconstruction of such a statement is important and would probably yield some interesting results, I wanted to focus on the theological precision of such a statement. Namely, is it true that Jesus sees us as we could be, and not as we are?

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins  in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.

For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— he was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

The scriptures make it clear that before the foundations of the world God has elected and predestined some to salvation. God sees us exactly as we are- children of wrath who live in the passions of our flesh and are slaves to sin- and out of his great love and mercy he saves us anyway. Romans 9:13 states “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” I would suggest that if you read Romans 9:13 and you are bothered by that last phrase, then you didn’t read Romans 9:13 closely enough. Instead, what should be amazing to anyone who understand the holiness of God and the justice of God against sin- what should be amazing to anyone who recognizes the depth of their own depravity, is “Jacob I loved“.

There was nothing in Jacob that was lovable. There was nothing in Jacob that was particularly attractive to the love of God. What should amaze us then is not that God hated, but that he loved. There are those who like to throw out objections to the Christian faith like “Why does God allow bad things happen to good people?”  My normal response is;  the Bible says  there are “none righteous, no not one”. There are no good people. The real question should be why does God allow good things to happen to any of us at all? We have to have a right understanding of the God that Isaiah saw upon his throne.  The angels circled the throne and what did they say ? Morning, noon and night, “Holy holy holy is the Lord God Almighty”. We underestimate his holiness and we greatly overestimate our goodness.  We  have no goodness, and any goodness we do have comes from God. That is why when we are dead in our trespasses and sins- when we are being ugly and cruel and selfish- blasphemers, god haters and god deniers, it should amaze us that Christ loves us as we are, in those moments of filth and scorn, and adopts us and brings us into a relationship with him.

God does not look into the future, see that we will become believers, and then goes back in time and elect us based on what we will be one day- covered in his Son’s righteousness, or a two-fold son of hell. God does not passively take in knowledge that way, or learn what we will become.  The quote reads as if God sees our potential to be moral, or our potential to do good works, or even our potential to be Christians, and then based on that he acts upon us accordingly. I would make the case that God sees us as we are. All the time. His eyes are wide open. He is “clear headed” He is under no delusion. He sees us exactly as we are, and still he saves.

And so I would love some discussion on that church sign.

Do you agree with it? How do you read it? Am I reading it wrong? What impression does it give to unbelievers or believers? Is it theologically and biblically accurate?

Ecclesial Roundup. Week ending 08.28.11

MGA Church. Pastor Glen Forsberg.

Fellowship Baptist Church.  Pastor Brent Carter

Fm Alliance. Pastor Val Johnson

Family Christian Center

Emmanuel Baptist Church

Brief thoughts and pictures on the Kaos World Stage/ Interplay event.

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.

Ecclesial Roundup. Week ending 07.31.11

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]

Ecclesial Sermon Roundup

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.

Sermon Review. FBC. Pastor Brent Carter. The Fallout of Genesis

I’ve decided to stop doing such lengthy summaries of the sermons I’m reviewing, and instead simply give my thoughts and assume that the person has listened to it. I used to summarize at great lengths so that people would know that I have actually listened to the sermon, almost always twice, but due to time constraints it seems best that I summarize as I go and offer thoughts and reflections in manner.

Pastor Brent begins by talking about different frustrations that we have, and that even in the smallest frustrations we see the impact of the fall around us. “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. Romans 8:22″. He states that the singular sin of Adam fractured this world. “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.”

We are told that we live in a world that is under the ongoing impact of sin. It impacted all of creation and not just Adam and Eve. It is postulated that if we could clearly see the connection of sin to disaster for example, then we would always believe God and obey God. But somehow we don’t see the connection, because we are blind to these things and as a result we live in the disconnect from sin to our lives. He states that the impact of sin was punishment, and then proceeds to unpack Genesis 3 for us.

Pastor Brent states that Satan desires to take what is good and pervert it for sinful purposes, and for this reasons and others there will be a perpetual struggled between Satan and mankind. Even those who don’t believe in him are impacted by him. He talks about the two ditches that Christians can fall in regarding Satan, either not caring at all or caring too much. C.S. Lewis put it this way “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe,and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or magician with the same delight.”

Pastor Brent then does a straightforward job of unpacking Genesis 3. He mentions that Genesis 3:16 is about husbands ruling over their wives, and then does the leg work to point to 1 Timothy 2 “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.” He says that this is in full effect today, and while I would have liked him to go a bit more in depth into this, I was grateful that he did not shirk away from the potential hardships and offense of the text,

He then spends time speaking of the hostility and effects of the curse on men and women of Adams sin, and the speaks of the prophetic protoevangelium [Literally "First Gospel"] whereas the head of the serpent would be crushed by the Messiah, the offspring from the woman, and now that prophecy plays out. Because he takes a very literal approach to the first few chapters of Genesis, it would have been intriguing for him to talk about the role that the protoevangelium has in pointing to the authenticity and import of Genesis. We know that all prophecy is given from God, and so how that fact plays into the truth and veracity of Genesis would be fascinating.

In any case, he takes a literal approach to Genesis 1-3, which I am grateful for.Interestingly enough, the vast majority of the Churches in the city speak of Genesis as being a literal account, which is a bit unusual because it is not an especially popular opinion- as evidenced by the fact that less than 6% of Christian seminaries hold to a formal, literal creation/ young earth beliefs. As it were, he speaks of man hiding from God in their sin and trying to cover ourselves in things that cannot conceal our nakedness before the Lord.

Pastor Brent states that the ultimate tree of life is Calvary- is the Cross. This is where it was made possible to reverse the impact of sin for men who would have faith in God’s provision. Christ suffered but rose from the grave to the dismay of the enemy of souls. The everlasting life that that once existed was the one which was forfeited by Adam and Eve, and is now offered to us by Jesus Christ. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. (Revelation 21:4-6 ESV)

The Pastor closes with “If you’re here today and you have not tasted of the water of life, have not recognized that without the covering of righteousness that comes from Jesus Christ, you are under the condemnation of Jesus Christ.  Like Adam and Eve you will be banished from God for eternity. If you don’t have rest in your soul, lack of assurance, trying to hide from God and hoping it will work out- it won’t. The only possible remedy for your sin is the shed blood of Jesus Christ.”

And there it is. I consider this to be a very good sermon. Bible verses were not taken out of context, the Gospel was present, and the whole sermon had a very pastoral and authoritative ring to it. It is a sharp contrast to a review I will be posting in a day or two, which is everything but. All in all, very fine and personally edifying.

FBC. Win. Pastor Bruce Taylor. September 6, 2009.

FBC. Win. Pastor Bruce Taylor. September 6, 2009.


Pastor Bruce starts off with a scripture reading, which is 1 Corinthians 9:19-27. He uses the ESV translation, and so he receives automatic props for that, haha. In any case, the sermon starts off with a word of wisdom, that we need to be thoughtful and be wise when we reach out to people, and that we ought to think about when and how we reach out to people. We also need to make sure that we don’t get arrogant or dismissive, and have the attitude that our way of doing things are the only right way and that just because some people use different strategies, it does not make them wrong or bad.

We’re told that we have freedom in Christ, and that we need to be ready to engage people where they are. He uses the example of if we’re going to minster to a culture, say doing missionary work, we should learn their culture, language and customs, and build and reach out by being intentional. We need to sacrifice the things don’t matter for the sake of the gospel. We need to restrict ourselves for the sake of the gospel. We need to develop a selfless mindset as ministers of Christ, and even though because of our freedom in Christ we may have certain rights, we need to be prepared to lay down our rights for the sake of the kingdom. He does add though, that the one thing we don’t sacrifice or compromise is the truth of God’s word. When talking with senior citizens, or youths, we need to connect with them on their level, and on their turf.

Note: it would have been nice to get a few bible verses in there, because I know there are some great ones to be had, or at least have him reinforce the verse he already presented. Because it seems like he read his string of scriptures, and it contains so much good stuff, but then he talks about concepts and truths found there without pointing back to the exact verse it’s found in. The more things that are anchored in specific scriptures, the better. As well, I would offer a word of caution that we don’t contextualize too much. We don’t have to dress like a goth to minister to a goth, and we don’t have to be over 60 to minister to a senior. The goal is not to be relevant, but rather to be faithful to the word. The gospel message transcends all cultures and economic and political circumstances .And I don’t think Pastor Bruce would disagree with me for a second, but I wanted to get that in.

In a slightly different vein, we are told that no one is exempt from the great commission, from going out into the world and making disciples and baptizing them. He then makes the point that “Loving God and loving other people is not optional. It is absolutely core to our faith. If you do not love God with all your heart mind soul and strength, and if you do not love people as yourself, then you need to talk to me. Because you need to understand the grace of God through Jesus Christ more if that’s the case.” At this point I did get in contact with Pastor Brent and asked him about that, specifically because I was concerned with how he was using the law. He reassured me that “Jesus calls us to live in His fulfillment of the law, we are to at least agree with the need for that in our lives, yes with brokenness in our understanding that we cannot do it perfectly but still our desire should be to live it out.” In short, I think that what is going on is not an improper use of the law, but rather a lack of precise language in defining it. For me, the insertion of “If you are not striving to love God with your whole heart” would have made all the difference, and that was what I believe he was getting at, and I agree with him on that for sure. Because remember, it’s not possible to actually love God with our hearts, soul, mind and strength, because that command to is the law and not the gospel. Rather, we rest content and joyful that Christ kept the law for us, and that through him we have mercy and grace and his righteousness when we don’t keep it.

In any case, we are told that the number one way we give God glory is through sharing the gospel, and that we need to run a good race. We need to be intentional with our whole week. That we are not being called to do more things, but rather to be intentional with our training. We can get a lot of knowledge, but not training. And in order to run the good race, and be fit for service, we need to engage in the application of our knowledge. We are then told that we need to move forward, and not be afraid of what people think about us, or what people think at work, or how we’re perceived by the community, etc. We need to overcome our fear, and do it for the gospel.

The last section is dedicated to a gospel message, and laying out for us the state of our souls and the need for a Savior. He says that a crucial element to salvation is that we admit our sins, and that “you cannot become a Christian if you have not admitted your sin. That’s the way Christianity works.” The foundations are found in a repentant heart in which we do admit our sin, and that if you don’t understand how sinful you are, you will never know that you need God’s mercy.

To illustrate the point, he does a test and starts us off at 100% “morality points” and then with each question we answer with a no, we lose 25%. The questions are about whether we love God perfectly as we should, love our neighbor as we should. Always spoken in a manner that exalts God, and always given him our talents and gifts. Inavertedly, everyone answers no, and everyone has 0%- which is to show the need for a Savior. And while I grasp the purpose and construction of the test, I think it’s imprecise. Because I would argue that as we are dead in our sins and are totally depraved, and born with original sin, that we start off in the negatives, as it were. We’re born at -1% and every sin brings us lower and lower and compounds the problem. As well, breaking one sin is as breaking the whole of the law, so that even telling a single lie is enough to send someone to hell and to render them at 0%

In any case, he talks about the great exchange, and how Jesus takes our 0 and gives us his 100%. That when God sees us, he sees all the righteousness of Jesus Christ. He tells us that it’s not a matter of getting all your ducks in a row, or dotting all your I’s and crossing your T’s in order to make yourself more acceptable to God. Not at all. In fact, when you do that you’re actually running from God rather than to God, because you’re trying to be your own Savior. [Which is a fantastic point]

Lastly, he tells us that victory is only found in Jesus Christ. It starts with his work and continues with his work. That our faith is not about figuring it out and making ourselves good to God, but that our faith is centered around the concept that I am a broken and sinful individual, and I received Jesus Christ because I have no hope other than him. And every day when I make a mess of things, I continually am receiving grace as through Jesus Christ as I am repentant and walk with humility concerning my flaws and inability. That I can only rely on God, because everything else is going to be sinful.


This really was an excellent sermon, made all the more so once I spoke to him and cleared up that issue I had. I already mentioned that it would have been nice to have his points anchored more firmly in specific scriptures, instead of just talking theology without any references. But again- his theology was spot on. One thing I’ve notice about Pastor Bruce, is that He definitely is right up there in his understanding of what the gospel is and how it works, and he probably explains it better and more thoroughly than anyone I’ve heard yet.

One point that really stuck with me though, and that I’ve been mulling quite a bit, is the part I bolded. Not the point he was making, but rather how as a believer I make myself acceptable to God. Because I know that nothing I can do can make me more acceptable to God, and yet oftentimes I find myself trying to do exactly that. If I wake up, get on my knees and pray for half an hour, then read my bible, then not engage in any big sins, then love my wife the way I ought to, and then maybe help a lady with her groceries at the store,  and then maybe mention Jesus in a conversation, I’m feeling on top of the world. I’m feeling that I really managed to please God today, and I’m feeling really saved. And yet if I haven’t read my bible in a few days, and I get needlessly angry at my wife, and I sit around at home and do nothing, and I don’t share the gospel with anyone, then I feel miserable and really unacceptable to God, and I feel like I have to make up for it or do something “godly” to get back in with his good graces.

But that’s not how it’s supposed to work, and in fact that’s not how it works at all, and sometimes I have to remind myself that. Because the reality for Christians and the point which needs to be driven home, is that if you don’t understand the gospel, then when you struggle and sin [and I do mean when, and not if] you’re going to think that God is disappointed in you, and you’re going to run from him rather than to him. That’s because you won’t understand that God’s pleasure in you is not predicated upon your moral behavior, but rather on the cross of Christ, which is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance. That stark reality is something that I cling to and hold dearly, and this sermon really brought that out for me. And so good stuff.

Note. sermon available at

FBC. Love is Job One. Pastor Brent. September 6, 2009

Love is Job One. Pastor Brent. Matthew 22, September 6, 2009

So the sermon starts of with a biblical presentation of what Christianity is, and he offers a quick primer on creation and sin. We are told that “the purpose of the law is to direct men to Christ. God did not give us the law to make us guilty, but to show us we are guilty…and to keep us from saying silly things like “I’ve done my best, and I think god will accept that…. The law is not a pass/fail test, because everyone has failed….God must judge each and every sin, and he will”. And these are excellent points and very well stated. I was somewhat amused at this point, because it is the equivalent of a theological brawl, as he comes out swinging within the first two minutes, punching hard fast but doing so lawfully. The purpose of the law is to condemn us of our sins and point us to Christ, and I think everyone is feeling it. He then gives us some bible verses to prove his point Romans 3:17, Galatians 3:24-25

I think at this point it may have been more effective to point the law at the congregation, and not in theoretical sense. It’s been my experienced that when you speak in the abstract, most congregations don’t think it applies to them, or rather they have an intellectual assent to it, but the knowledge of their depravity has never really sunk deep into their bones/  But when you start sweeping your arms over the room and say “You have all sinned. No one here is good enough, and you are all condemned save for the cross of Christ.,” that turns up the heat and get’s them thinking. Anyway, that’s just a minor quibble. Moving on!

The next major section of this sermon involved the concept of love, and how Jesus was able to distil the whole law of into two commandments. Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” We are told to love God, but that love is misunderstood and misused quite often. “Belief in God does not equal a love for God”. It is said that Jesus was never a minimalist. Jesus never sought to attract crowds, but rather he putting hard demands on his followers. Ie. take up your cross and follow me. We are also told.

  1. Jesus often tried to dissuade, rather than persuade people from following him, and teaching them that they must forsake all for his namesake.
  2. Jesus must be Lord. You can’t love him as the lord your God unless he is the Lord your God.
  3. You must get reconciled to God through faith. Ephesians 2:8-9. You will never get saved and in a right relationship with God by your effort, but rather you must be born again. [At this point he hammers away that it’s by faith alone and  in Christ alone that we are saved.
  4. We cannot love God unless we love his Son and receive him as saviour

But this is where I begin to have major problems with this sermon, when he begins talking about how we are to God with all our heart and soul and mind- how we are to love God with the totality of our faculties, that these dynamics marry our intellect and our emotion, so that we love God with our whole being. That we are to make the most of every minute and use that time to love God, and how a love for God will  impact what we do with our time and resources and service to him.

He tells us that Jesus sets the bar really high, and that we need to do away with low living. That we need to get up to the plateau that Jesus is calling us to. At this point, Pastor Brent indicates that shortly he will call believers to the front who want to love God with their whole heart and mind and strength. It is again reiterated that we must love God and love people, that wee cannot love people if we don’t love God, and that we need to love our neighbours and serve them with compassion and sacrifice.

A few parting observations are love is not listed as a spiritual gift, as anyone can do it. As well, there’s a link between love and connecting. How do you connect with people? Be friendly. Be helpful. Meet needs. Be generous. Be gracious. Be kind. Read 1 Corinthians 13. and 1 John to get some ideas on how to love. And lastly, the case is made that if you’re dissatisfied with your life as a believer, or unhappy with your life, then you have problems with your love life with God. And the good news from Jesus is that Jesus has a prescription for you to love the lord with all your heart and mind and strength, and love your neighbour, and that will make it better and make all the difference in the world.


I've been trying to get ahold of Pastor Brent to get some clarifications for his sermon, but I've been unable to. The reason for this is because it appears a confusion of law and gospel is being advanced, even though I know for a fact this church does not teach things. to touch on what appears to be happening, is that in the second half of the sermon, he begins to use the law unlawfully, by advancing the unbiblical idea that we as christians are capable of loving God with all our hearts and souls and mind. He says that Jesus set the bar really high, and that we need to get up to that plateau that Jesus called us to. The only problem is that he bar isn't just set high, it's set impossibly high. For a reason. The distilled commandments to love God and love others is STILL THE LAW! It is still that aching, back breaking, burdensome curse of a law that neither Peter nor Paul nor we could ever hope to keep. The commandment to love God and love others is not the Gospel, rather these commandments are the law which drives us to Christ. And so when you say that the prescription for feeling dissatisfied as a believer is to follow the law, you're treating law with more law, which only serves to compound the problem.

If there is any person who thinks they are loving God with their whole heart and soul and mind, that's when you crank up the law like the Jesus did to the rich young ruler, to show them they are liars if they think they have kept it.  Even sinning once in a day, is evidence enough that they don't love God as they wish. In fact, that sin that they committed, though it may seem small and insignificant is, to quote John Bunyan, "a dare of God's justice, the rape of his mercy, the jeer of his patience, the slight of his power, and the contempt of his love." That is what is contained in one sin, and everyone sins every day. Including the person who thinks he loves God perfectly

So what is the point of those two commandments? To show us, like the law does, that we can't ever hope to meet that standard, and that we are utterly helpless and depraved, and that serves to drive us to our knees before God praying for mercy and forgiveness because we just can't ever hope to Love him like we ought. That when we think about how we don't love God as we ought, we are so humbled by His grace towards us, that by professing Him as our Lord and Savior he loved God perfectly for us. Are we to love God? Absolutely. Are we to strive to love him with our whole hearts? Of course we should. But we never will, and we should never pretend that such a prospect is attainable. We don't need more law. The prescription that Jesus gives us is not more law, it's more grace. And more mercy. And more forgiveness of sins. The prescription is not more law, it's more gospel.

That having been said, I am confident that Pastor Brent would agree with me on that. I don't believe for a second that he believes it is possible to attain the keeping of the law, and yet because I analyze everything, I think the language used gives that false impression to some that it may be so. I think part of the problem is because the "love God and love others" is manifested in two different ways in scripture. One is as a summary of the law, [two greatest commandments] and another way as the natural inclinations of a believer who has been washed with the blood of Christ and is conforming to that pattern of sanctification and righteousness by bearing fruits and growing in our affections for the Savior. As for me, I like to see those two manifestations clearly delineated, and I’m probably too sensitive to the fact that it seems like oftentimes they aren’t. And so I’m not knocking the sermon for this, just wishing for a bit more clarity when dealing with these issues.

FBC. Serve with Humility. Pastor Brent Carter. August 23, 2009

FBC. Serve with Humility. Pastor Brent Carter. August 23, 2009

Serve with Humility. Pastor Brent Carter. August 23, 2009

As near as I can tell, this sermon is more or less a series to explain and understand certain aspects of their new ministry statement, of which this is one point-“With our community in our heart we will intentionally minister to physical and spiritual needs, treating every person with dignity and respect.” encapsulated by the phrase “serve with humility”The sermon is structured around the two points of serve and humility, with the call that we ought to do and be both- be a servant and serve, and be a humble man and serve others humbly. He then goes on to make four points

1. Do people in your workplace see you as a servant as you go about your work?
2. Humility is a quality you have to have without knowing you have it.
3. We need to be intentional about serving.
4. We need to look up to people who are serving with humility.

One point of interest was he spoke of serving, and about young kids going out with no agenda to show the love of Christ by serving. And that strikes me as an odd things to say, because first of all, they do have an agenda, which is to show the love of Christ. And second of all, how are they showing the love of Christ and what does that love of Christ look like? It seems to me that they’re really not. Maybe people will think they’re showing the love of Vishnu or a love for their city or for civic work.  The reality is that an inauspicious physical action does not equal showing the love of Christ, because no one knows that the love of Christ is being shown. If I go help an old lady walk across the street, and then be on my way, yes I’ve served her as a person, but I did not show her the love of God. I would imagine that the last thing on her mind was “That was so kind of you. Tell me about Christ the hope that lies within!?”

And so we need to be careful of this. I was glad to see that he quickly followed that point up by reminding us that “We need to meet the physical and spiritual needs, and if we’re meeting one and not the other, we’re not doing the whole job.” And “People say that we’re too heavenly minded to be any earthly good. I think the opposite is true, we’re so busy doing things that we neglect the gospel.” And that is a great point, and exactly true, and I’m so grateful that he pointed that out. But that also serves to show the disconnect from his previous statement, about going out and doing random acts of kindness. I don’t think we need to broadcast that we’re doing this because we’re Christians and that it’s a church body doing things, but how do random acts of kindness indicate those things and meet spiritual needs? I think what might make more sense is intentional, long term acts of kindness, which might extend over days or weeks or months or even years, whereby you can be involved and be deliberate, or at least doing something and inviting them to church, or sharing with them the gospel.

In any case, then he talks about how we should be treating people with dignity and respect, and how every person we meet is made in the image of God. That many people have lost their dignity, and we need to help in restoring it. He then delves into Philippians 1:21 “ For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” and Philippians 3:20, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” and the position that for the apostle Paul, his life is not a matter of seeking his own comfort or advancement, but rather it’s about seeking the advancement of Christ’s kingdom: to live is tantamount to serving Christ. In fact, to die should be seen as gain, because it would mean that Paul would be freed from his trouble-filled life on earth to rejoice in Christ’s presence.

The pastor then begins to unpack John 1:1-11, which is the story of Jesus washing his disciples feet. And I  liked how he handled this section. He points out some of the cultural contexts of the situation, such as Jesus laying aside his garment as a sign of submission, and the social significance of servants washing feet. He then talks about how Jesus humbly washed his disciples feet, and makes the point that no person or task is beneath you, and that the only way you can feel someone is beneath you, is if you believe that Jesus was beneath his disciples. He also asked whether it was difficult for Jesus to wash their feet, and concluded that it probably wasn’t, as Jesus was truly humble, and had humbled himself many times before this, and would soon humble himself again by being killed on a cross. He also mentions that Jesus did this as a teaching lesson to his followers, so that the could imitate this and have an example to follow.

Pastor Brent then closes the sermon with three questions

1. Have you personally bowed your knee to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and accepted him as that?

2. Do you regularly give up your wishes, rights and plans to show God’s love to others?

3. Are you willing to wash the feet of fellowship Baptist church and of Fort McMurray. [symbolically speaking]

Goals for the future

I. by January 2010 implement a program to do random acts of kindness throughout the community
II. By June 2010, 100% of parents of children will be invited to volunteer with children ministries, with 50% serving in some capacity.


As a whole, it was a good sermon and one that I enjoyed a fair amount. One thing that really stuck with me and hit home with me especially was the “call to action” so to speak, and concept of being intentional and living that out, I say that mainly because It’s easy for me to stay in my head and read hundreds of pages a week from books of theology and from scripture, and to lose myself in the word without…manifesting outwards what I’m inwardly consuming. And so this gave me a good shake, and I’m going to start praying and working towards that intentionality for the sake of the kingdom. Two things which I wish to point out, however. The first occurs early on, when he says this “Paul often referred to himself as a servant, as a slave. He used that terminology a lot. He understood that his relationship to Jesus Christ was one of a servant to the lord. He was under his command. And, if you haven’t found a position or an opening at fellowship Baptist church, to serve, this is one you can take on immediately; servant. And you can kind of just…wait for the details. And you’ll wait for the orders to come from the commander and chief who is Jesus Christ.”

Much of the sermon is about servanthood, and how as we are servants of Christ, we should serve others. The only problem, or at least thing to keep in mind, is that Paul nowhere refers to himself as Christ’s servant, but rather as slave. All the time. I know that most major translations translate the word “doulos” as servant, but that is wrong. It should read as slave. I wish it would have been hammered away that we are slaves to Christ, and not just mere servants. The word “doulos” occurs something like 150 times in the new testament, and “slave” is all it ever means and all it’s ever meant. It means nothing else. It’s not ambiguous. It means a person owned, it means a person with no rights, no freedom, no standing. A slave could not own property, could not give testimony in a court of law as a witness in a case, could not seek reparations from a civil court of law because he had no rights. No autonomy, no freedom. Doulos means that. There are six other Greek words used in the New Testament that can be translated “servant.” and “doulos” is not one of those words.

When it’s used to refer to a person related to Christ, all the translations will not translate it “slave” but rather they’ll equivocate and you’ll find the word “servant,” and the sort of non-existent hybrid word “bondservant,” for which there is no Greek equivalent. Slavery, the word “doulos,” plain and simple, indicates that you are owned. No freedom, under the total control of an alien will. Absolute, unqualified submission to the commands of a higher authority. A servant works for someone; a slave is owned by someone.

But once you understand this concept, the whole New Testament opens up and you read it in a whole new way. Then all of a sudden when you read a ton of verses, of which one example is “You are not your own, you were bought with a price,” and  boom! You understand it. Romans 1:1. “Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus.” Or Philippians 1:1, “Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus.” Or James, “James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Or Peter. 2 Peter 1, “Simon Peter, a slave.” Or Jude, “Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ.” And then Revelation 1:1, “John, a slave.” They were all slaves, and considered themselves enslaved to a crucified man at a time when being a slave was the worst thing you could be.

What is the point of me saying that?  Basically because while I and probably most people understand what’s being said, to say that because we are servants of Christ, and so we ought to serve others- that analogy doesn’t really work. That it is a very imprecise way of understanding things. In context, to make that point would be saying that because we are slaves of Christ, we should be slaves to others. And I know that no one is suggesting that, but it is important to cast our relationship to Christ in the most strongest words possible, and differentiate it from all others. We should seek to serve others, absolutely. But we are not merely Christ’s servants. We are the “doulos” to the Almighty. We are slaves to the Father and Son and Holy Spirit.

The second thing is that it would have been nice to hear him elaborate on the text in John, and the symbolism of washing feet. With his crucifixion imminent, Jesus washes his disciples’ feet as a final proof of his love for them, setting an example of humility and servanthood and signifying the washing away of sins through his death. In a striking demonstration of love for his enemies, Jesus washes all of his disciples’ feet, including those of Judas. Jesus’ act is all the more remarkable, as washing people’s feet was considered to be a task reserved for non-Jewish slaves. In a culture where people walked long distances on dusty roads in sandals, it was customary for the host to arrange for water to be available for the washing of feet. Normally, this was done upon arrival, not during the meal.

As well, when delving in John 13:8-11, To have no share with Jesus means that one does not belong to him. Here the footwashing symbolizes the washing necessary for the forgiveness of sins, in anticipation of Jesus’ death for his people, by which sins are washed away. Right?  as well, Jesus applies the footwashing in another way. Those who have been washed through Jesus’ once-for-all death also need daily cleansing of their sins [symbolized by their frequent need to wash their feet]. It is apparent that Jesus applies the footwashing figuratively since he says not all are clean, referring to Judas, but clearly he cleaned Judas’s feet as well. Because Judas is not spiritually cleansed, unlike Peter, he does not have a “share” with Jesus. And when you bring this in, then you bring some necessary gospel to the sermon, which every sermon should have at least in some way.

In any case, this was still a good sermon, with a good message for what it was, and the scriptures were used correctly and in context.

FBC. Free to Sin. Brent Carter. August 30, 2009

FBC. Free to Sin. Pastor Brent Carter. August 30, 2009

Free to Sin. Brent carter. Romans 6:1-10.

This sermon is missing part of the introduction, but the part I have begin in the book of Romans 6m with the pastor giving three reasons why the argument of keeping on sinning so that grace keeps on abounding is foolish, and addresses why it really is an unthinkable line of thinking, and why grace is not a licence to sin

1. “Because believers are baptised into the death of Jesus Christ, which unites us to him.” He goes on to offer the biblical evidence, Matthew 28:19, Galatians 3:27, 1 Corinthians 12:13 etc, and makes the case that becoming a Christian involves a vital, personal and real identification in Jesus Christ in which we are in fact united to him by adoption.

2. “We are specifically identified with his death and resurrection.” Just as we shared in Adam’s sin, we share in Christ death and resurrection, because we have been baptised into his death. Paul argues that there are parallels with us being identified as having a new walk. Just as Christ resurrected into new life, so we too will have a new life. There are references to John 11 and the story of Lazarus, whereby after Jesus rose him from the dead, Lazarus had to take off his grave clothes and so do we. We are told that we are raised in newness of life and set forth to live in newness of that life.

3. “Christ’s death is finished, but his life continues.” Like Christ, our old life is finished, and our new life continues. Death to sin removes the power of sin, so we are freed from the slavery of sin.


1. Why do some people who claim to be in Christ seem to continue in sin? Why are they enslaved to sin?

2. Why do all of us Christians sometimes struggle with sin?

Pastor Brent goes on to say that Christ did not die to sin, in the sense of being unresponsive to it, and then talks about the relationship between death to sin. He makes the case that Jesus died to sin, by means of meeting the demands of sin, which was to die and perish, and that Jesus gave his life so sin would have no more claim on him. In the same sense, because we are in Christ, we too are considered to have paid sins penalty. We do this because we are participants in his death and resurrection and have all the benefits of that. Sin has no threat or claim to us, neither does death have any power because we have eternal life. The question is asked and answered; “Why has paul explained all this? so believers won’t be slaves to sin.” We’re told that it’s not a matter of more determination and hard work and physically and mentally forcing yourself to keep from sinning, but rather resting more and more in Christ and his death and resurrection.


What a great sermon! The text being used is Romans 6, which is fantastic chapter. I always get excited when Romans is preached from, and I need to say off the bat that this was a real delight for me. One of those reasons is because it was done in an exegetical and systematic way, unpacking the verses line by line. Secondly because a lot of scripture was referenced, and third because it went quite a bit deeper than most sermons I hear. The whole thing is dripping with theology and deep Christ-centered and cross-focused teaching, which I appreciate. It gave me a lot to think about, and a lot to take away. I don’t have much to say about this, other than that it was really well done, and that a few more practical, applicable examples would have been useful to that each and every person could have this applied to yourself. The sermons remained a little on the abstract side, and because of this, it might be useful to share teaching on how we die to that sins so that we don’t become slaves to it.

If I might recommend some resources  for Christians to read regarding this, I can’t help but recommend the puritans for their insights, specifically Of the mortification of sin in believers, by John Owen, c 1656.  Freedom of the Will and Religious Affections, by Jonathan Edwards c 1746 and The bondage of the will, by Martin Luther c 1525 The former book by John Owens is a hard read even by puritan standards. I mean that. It is very heavy and is achingly deep, but will bless anyone who reads it, even if it’s at just a page a day, and even if you have to go over each line many times like I did.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Powered by