Secret Church 2018

On Friday April 20 we are hosting a simulcast event called “Secret Church”. We invite you to join us for this time of worship, prayer for the persecuted church, and intense Bible study led by David Platt. Tickets are $10 (to cover our costs), and we would encourage you to get your tickets early to ensure we have materials for you.

Get tickets for Secret Church 18

This year’s topic is “Cults and Counterfeit Gospels”. The apostle Paul was astonished that some followers of Christ in his day were “turning to a different gospel,” and he pleaded with them not to be deceived by those who wanted to “distort the gospel of Christ.” These warnings given to the church in the first century are just as relevant today for the church in the twenty-first century.

The idea for Secret Church came when David Platt visited a part of the world where Christians regularly face persecution for their faith. Believers in countries like this who have been found worshipping in secret have been shot, burned and imprisoned.

However, it turns out that the vast majority of believers in these situation are undeterred. They risk persecution, and many travel for hours to study the Bible, pray and fellowship. These “church” gatherings usually happen in a home or other small location, and are often done in secret. Pastor and author David Platt observes “These small groups of Christ-followers often meet for many hours in study, prayer and fellowship, as it is dangerous to travel to ‘church’ and they want to make the most of their time together.”

When Platt first traveled to a country where such persecution was normal, he was convicted by the dedication and seriousness of the national believers. They saw their time with other believers in prayer and the Bible as precious. He realized that in the United States, with such a low “cost” for church attendance, we too often approach our gatherings very casually. We don’t want the service to go too long, and prefer to be rather passive in our participation.

In response, he decided to have a gathering called “Secret Church” in Birmingham, Alabama. The idea was to challenge Christians in the United States to meet together for 4-6 hours with the resolve and focused intensity that he had observed in these other countries. Additionally, he wanted to take time to pray intentionally for persecuted Christians in other parts of the world. Those are the two key elements of Secret Church–intense, focused Bible study and prayer for the persecuted Church.

This gathering has since become a regular event, happening once or twice a year, and “Secret Church” has expanded beyond Platt’s former church in Alabama to simulcast locations around the country. And this year it will be right here in Great Bend. Grace Community Church will be simulcasting Secret Church 18 on Friday, April 20. This event is open to the community, and it will run from 6pm-Midnight.

Click here to get your tickets. More info about Secret Church is available at secretchurch.org.

Check Your Sources

Pastor Jay continues the series on War of the World – A Training Manual for “My Little Children”, with this week’s sermon “Check Your Sources” from 1 John 4:4-6.

1 John 4:4-6 (ESV)

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

To know truth from error we need to know our sources.

  • You need to know that you are from God.
    • You have and will overcome false doctrinal spirits.
    • You know that He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
  • You need to know that they are from the world.
    • They speak from the world.
    • The world listens to them.
  • You need to know that the apostles were from God.
    • Whoever knows God listen to the words of the apostles.
    • Whoever is not from God does not listen to the words of the apostles.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • What is a source and how important is it for determining truth?
  • How does being a child of God give you confidence about knowing what is true?
  • In what specific way (within the context of our passage) is the one in us greater than the one in the world?
  • What is it like when the “world” will not listen to us? How should we deal with that?
  • What does John mean when he says “we” in v. 6? Why is John so self-assured in this?

Discernment

Pastor Jay continues the series on War of the World – A Training Manual for “My Little Children”, with this week’s sermon “Discernment” from 1 John 4:1-3.

1 John 4:1-3 (ESV)

Test the Spirits

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.

We should not be easily dupes by false doctrinal spirits.

  • Don’t be gullible.
  • Don’t be lazy.
  • Don’t be surprised.
  • Don’t make it too complicated.
    • Jesus is the Christ.
    • Jesus Christ truly came in the flesh.
    • Jesus Christ is come.
  • Don’t say you weren’t told.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • What does “discernment” mean?
  • Do all Christians need discernment? Where does it come from?
  • What does it mean to be gullible?
  • What does it mean to text a spirit?
  • What core truths about Jesus are taught by God’s Spirit?

Blaspheming God’s Name By Actions

Question: Would believers not obeying God, thus “embarrassing “ God, be a
form of taking the Lords name in vain?

This is an interesting question and I think it makes a valid biblical point. In Romans Paul says this to his hypothetical Jewish reader. “You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” (Rom. 2:23-24 ESV)

We could extend that logic and say that we who bear the name of Christ run the same risk. If we boast in Christ but live unholy lives, we invite the world to blaspheme his name. Though we are not forming the words on our own lips the outcome is the same.  By our hypocrisy we expose the name of Christ to abuse.

Let us remind ourselves that we’ve been appointed to be salt and light in this wicked age.  Salt must not lose its saltiness and light must not be hidden under a bushel. If there is unrepentant sin in our lives, we need to turn, confess and bring our lives under submission to His Lordship.

 

When bad things happen to good people

 

Question: This question appeared recently. People commonly ask, “How can a loving god allow bad things to happen to good people?” How do you respond?

First, there are at least two very different ways this question gets asked. I will do my best to give a reasonable answer to both.

Let’s assume that the person asking the question is a believer, but he or she has faced something grievous and painful. The question isn’t hypothetical, and it’s not an argument against the existence or goodness of God. Instead, the question reveals the heart of one who is earnestly seeking reassurance but struggling with doubt.

First, I would remind them that God has demonstrated the greatest possible love to them, by sending Jesus to die for them while they were yet sinners. I would point them toward Roman 8:28, and remind them that God works all things to their good. I would read further in Romans 8 to remind them that nothing can separate them from the love of God in Christ.

Yes, what they have gone through was painful. Jesus told us that the rain would fall on the just and the unjust alike. Job said to his wife, “shall we receive good from God and not receive evil?” Bad things do not mean that God is punishing us. Rather, we know that God is fashioning us into the image of Christ, and that he uses sometimes-painful pruning in our lives to bring further conformity to his image. He also uses these things for His glory.

Furthermore, I would remind them that our afflictions here are considered “light and momentary” compared to the glory we will experience. God will wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no death, sin or suffering.

There would be much more I could say, and I would tailor what I said to that person’s situation.

On the other hand, this question is sometimes an argument used by atheists to deny the existence of an all-knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful god. They seek a rebuttal to an argument. We are supposed to provide a so-called “theodicy” which means a vindication of God’s sovereignty and love in a world where evil exists.

I am not a trained apologist, but I might tell them that the Bible does have answers, but that they may simply not like those answers very much. God, to be God must be perfect in all his attributes. That means that his justice and his love are both infinite.

When Adam sinned against God, evil became part of man’s experience. We all die because of that sin. We all add to that sin, more sin upon sin. An all-holy, omnipotent creator had every right to destroy us, condemn us to hell and be done.

But God, in his perfect love, chose to rescue a people unto himself. He perfectly satisfied both his justice and his mercy at the cross. Evil is what we deserve, but we have received grace. The question is not really; why to bad things happen to good people, but why does so much good happen to bad people.

There is a kind of arrogance among certain individuals who think that the problem of evil is something new, novel and unanswerable. The truth is, this question is a dominant theme in the scripture, and has been asked and answered for millennia. In effect, the answer to their question is at the heart of the gospel.

Yes, evil exists. And God in mercy has given His son to redeem all those who repent and believe in Him. Evil will be vanquished with finality, but the evil ones made righteous will shine like the light of the sun in their Father’s kingdom.

Perhaps, I would ask such a person. Do you really want God to deal with the problem of evil in you?

 

 

God’s Pleasure

Pastor Jay continues the series on War of the World – A Training Manual for “My Little Children”, with this week’s sermon “God’s Pleasure” from 1 John 3:23-24.

1 John 3:23-24 (ESV)

And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

God has shown us His pleasure.

  • He has shown us the obedience that pleases him.
    • God is pleased when we obey the command to believe in His Son.
    • God is pleased when we obey the command to love one another.
  • He has shown us the reward that flows from his pleasure.
    • God is pleased to give us a co-abiding relationship with Him.
    • God is pleased to give us the Holy Spirit.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • What obedience pleases God?
  • What does it mean that God abides in us and we abide in God?
  • How does His abiding help us?
  • How can God command is to love?
  • How is a commandment a gift of God?
  • What rewards flow out of obedience?

Blessed Assurance

Pastor Jay continues the series on War of the World – A Training Manual for “My Little Children”, with this week’s sermon “Blessed Assurance” from 1 John 3:19-22.

1 John 3:19-22 (ESV)

By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.

Our great God provides assurance to His children.

  • Love assures our hearts.
  • God is greater than our hearts.
  • Answered prayer reassures our confidence.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • How does love assure our hearts? Is this an objective or subjective experience?
  • How does truth pass from our mind to our heart?
  • What is God’s omniscience? How does that help our hearts?
  • How does prayer relate to our heart’s assurance?