VBS 2018

Clap Your Hands, Stomp Your Feet
VBS 2018 – June 4-8, 6-8pm

Our 2018 Vacation Bible School theme was “Clap Your Hands, Stomp Your Feet.” We explored the life of King David and learned what it means to respond to God in praise and worship! For more information about this curriculum you can check out this post by the curriculum’s author, Jared Kennedy.

Can we trust the Bible?

“How can we trust the word to be true? How can we trust the authors of the Bible?”

This is a great question but also one that could receive a book length answer. I apologize that for this reason, I’ve waited for an opportunity to devote more time to it.

How can we trust the Bible to be true? At this point we are not asking questions about the canon (what books belong within the scripture?) or about the reliability of the manuscripts and their transmission (does our current text accurately reflect what was in the original manuscripts?).

Our starting point is the scripture as we recognize it with sixty-six books from Genesis through Revelation. How can we be sure they are truthful in all they proclaim?

Let me address this briefly under the following headings: internal witness (does the Bible make the claim of inerrancy), logic (is there a logical necessity that it be inerrant?), Christ’s view of scripture (did He regard it as inerrant?), external evidence (is there objective evidence that the scripture is inerrant?)

Internal witness: The scripture’s self-understanding and self-disclosure is that it is the word of God and that it speaks truthfully and authoritatively in all its parts. [i]

Logic: If we were to allow that the Bible could be untruthful and unreliable in parts, then we would have no basis for affirming anything in it with confidence. Furthermore, if it is the word of an infallible, almighty, omniscient God, then it would logically be wholly truthful in all that it intends to say.

Christ’s view: What Christ held concerning the scripture must be our linchpin of understanding. We believe that He is the savior of the world, the Son of God who died on the cross and rose from the grave. The entire scripture points to Him. He testified to the truthfulness of all scripture. He is the key witness to the veracity of every jot and tittle. [ii]

External evidence: Although the Bible has been under attack for centuries, archaeology has repeatedly corroborated the scripture’s testimony. Again and again, scholars have doubted the existence of people groups, usages of language, historical data, knowledge of geography, names of rulers, and so forth. They attack and try to discredit, and then archeological discoveries come along and support the biblical data.

Special considerations: Inerrancy does not require scientific precision. The Bible does not speak in modern scientific categories. For instance, if a person says, “I saw the sunrise this morning” we do not brand him a liar (for we know the earth moved and not the sun). This is called phenomenological language and the Bible often speaks in that way. There is no error in that manner of thought.

The Bible is truthful and reliable in whatever it speaks to. For instance, long before the concept of the big bang, the Bible declared that God made the universe by His word and not from what is visible. In the view of science, this was considered a laughable idea until the theory of the big bang came along and science came to support the idea of a beginning to the universe.

Conclusion:  The Bible is the word of God as breathed out by Him through human authors. It is truthful in all that it intends to affirm. The language may not be considered scientific, but it is truthful in its intended meaning. Because it is the word of God, it is not only truthful, but it is reliable and the only authority for our faith and our lives.

For further reading: Wayne Grudem has an excellent and nearly exhaustive treatment of this subject in chapters 2-8 of his Systematic Theology.

Currently, the book by R.C. Sproul, Can I Trust The Bible? is free on Amazon for Kindle.

Norman Geisler also has edited a book, Inerrancy that looks to be quite thorough.

[i] 2 Timothy 3:15-16, Hebrews 6:18, Numbers 23:19, Matthew 24:35

[ii] Matthew 4:4, 5:18, John 6:63, 10:34-35, 17:17

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.

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?

 

 

Cretan or Cretin

Have you ever been called either a Cretan or a cretin? Both terms can be meant as insults but have different spellings and slightly different meanings. A “Cretan” is a person from the island of Crete.  If you call someone a Cretan in that sense, you are saying that they are like the stereotypical resident of ancient Crete.

Paul pigeonholes the Cretans this way (and it’s not remotely politically correct), “One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” (Tit. 1:12 ESV) Paul shoots from the hip, but he’s not wrong.  Though Crete had been inhabited for centuries, during the New Testament time period, the island had become a haven for pirates. Titus, whom Paul left on Crete, had his work cut out for him.

“Cretin”, with an “i” is an intended slur, a synonym for “idiot”.  The origin of the term is fascinating.  In the Alps, a distinct type of congenital defect was common. Cretinism is a disease caused by a lack of iodine, which in turn leads to a birth defect consisting in short stature and mental impairment. A cretin suffers from this abnormality.

But how did cretinism get named?  “Cretin” is derived from the French word that means Christian.  The local Christians wanted to show kindness to these developmentally challenged individuals. Whereas some people regarded cretins as subhuman, they chose to regard them as brothers. They called them by the name “Christian” (cretin) to emphasize the worth of their human souls.  Being called a “cretin” may be intended as an insult, but it is a reminder as well, that God chose the foolish things of this world to shame the wise.

Happily then, “Cretan” and “cretin” are both words that remind us of the redemptive power of the gospel. In the case of “Cretans”, we know that Christ redeemed many on that island for himself.  The gospel of Christ can change pirates into saints of God. In the case of “cretins”, the gospel of Christ redeemed a whole culture’s view of the developmentally disabled.  Christ’s love in the gospel redeems Cretans and cretins for God’s glory.

Tip of the day: If someone calls you a “cretin” ask your detractor to spell it, define it, and then tell him how the gospel changes everything.  It changed you, dear cret*n.

 

Pastor Jay Beuoy

New City Catechism – Week 52

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“All Glory Be to Christ”
(Hymn #133 in Hymns of Grace)
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Q52: What hope does everlasting life hold for us?

A52: It reminds us that this present fallen world is not all there is; soon we will live with and enjoy God forever in the new city, in the new heaven and the new earth, where we will be fully and forever freed from all sin and will inhabit renewed, resurrection bodies in a renewed, restored creation.

Our culture bombards us with a message. “Stay young. Hold on to what you have. Squeeze this life of every possible pleasure, because it’s all you have. Don’t lose out.” Age is no longer wisdom, but loss. Dying is tragic and evidence that if God exists, he must be stingy and harsh.

The Christian lives with a countercultural worldview. We know that our best days are not behind but ahead. Certainly, in this world, we have many good things. God provides our daily bread. God has made everything under the sun beautiful in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:11), but he also tells us that, in this world, we will have troubles (John 16:33) and that our outer life will waste away (2 Cor 4:16).

No, we confidently hope in that life to come with Christ. Though we are like grass that withers and the flower that fades, yet we know that in our redeemed bodies, we will see God. “But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Rom. 8:10).

He will come again. We will be raised incorruptible and made like Him. We will be together with our Lord. He will establish His consummated Kingdom apart from any vestige of resistance. God will dwell with man in a restored new heaven and earth. He will reign eternally and bring in everlasting joy. In His presence, there will be pleasures forevermore. We will delight in His glory without end.

-Pastor Jay

New City Catechism – Week 51

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“Come Praise and Glorify”
(Hymn #44 in Hymns of Grace)
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Q51: Of what advantage to us is Christ’s ascension?

A51: Christ physically ascended on our behalf, just as he came down to earth physically on our account, and he is now advocating for us in the presence of his Father, preparing a place for us, and also sends us his Spirit.

It’s simple math really. Subtraction takes away. A child doesn’t understand the concept or rules of subtraction, but he quickly realizes that he had something and now he doesn’t. When it comes to things we like or need, we don’t want that taken away. I saw a funny meme the other day: wrap several empty boxes and put them under the Christmas tree. When your child acts up, take one of the boxes and throw it in the fireplace. Not really good parenting, but it illustrates the how painful subtraction can be!

The book of Acts starts with Jesus again spending time with his disciples. It must have been an incredible moment. He was in his glorified body since he had died and rose again. The conversations they must have had would have been so interesting. Then, suddenly, he is ascending to heaven. The two angels ask them why they’re looking up to the sky since Jesus is coming back again someday.

I’ve always thought that was a silly question. This man whom they’ve followed for years now has gone into the clouds and they ask why they’re looking. They miss their friend and savior! Jesus is literally the greatest person ever to walk the earth and he’s now gone. It’s the ultimate in subtraction.

Knowing the complete story, we see how Christ left so the Holy Spirit could come into believers. But they didn’t get that yet. They’re devastated. Even today, I would love to have Christ be here physically on earth. Why then did Christ need to ascend?

As I mentioned before, Christ explains that part of the reason he ascended was to allow the Holy Spirit to come into believers. Paul explains more of the reasoning in Romans 8, specifically in Romans 8:31-39. Paul gives a clear explanation of exactly where Christ is and why he is there. He’s at the right hand of God which is a place of priority and prominence. He’s there because he’s interceding for us constantly to God the Father.

While subtraction is often negative, clearly we are still benefitting from Christ’s ascension. What an incredible God we serve!

-Pastor Jon

 

New City Catechism – Week 50

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“O Great God”
(Hymn #35 in Hymns of Grace)
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Q50: What does Christ’s resurrection mean for us?

A50: Christ triumphed over sin and death by being physically resurrected, so that all who trust in him are raised to new life in this world and to everlasting life in the world to come. Just as we will one day be resurrected, so this world will one day be restored. But those who do not trust in Christ will be raised to everlasting death.

Last week we considered the fact of Christ’s bodily resurrection and his rule of his kingdom from the Father’s right hand. This week we will look at that reality in a different light: how it affects us. Or put another way, “given the fact of Jesus’ resurrection, what does that mean for our daily lives?”

Let’s answer that question by looking at three implications of Christ’s resurrection for us: a pattern, a promise, and a warning. First, we see that the resurrection of Jesus is a pattern. 1 Cor 15:20-23 explains that just as Jesus was physically raised from the dead, so will believers be raised again to glorious eternal life with him. Just as Jesus was raised physically, believers will also be raised in our physical bodies, although transformed by God into glorious, incorruptible bodies (1 Cor 15:42-44).

But we do not have to wait until the resurrection of the dead to see the benefits of Christ’s resurrection, since it also contains a promise for us. The promise is that just as Christ was raised, we are raised to new life while still in this world (Rom 6:4). God does not leave on our own to “do our best” with this religion thing. Rather, we have the power of Christ living in us so that we can live by faith (Gal 2:20). He is at work in us to preserve us until the day he returns (Phil 2:12) and to produce spiritual fruit in our lives.

Christ’s resurrection also hold promise for the entire creation, which is broken by sin (Gen 3:17-18) and awaiting the day when it will be fully restored (Rom 8:19-21). As the Christmas hymn “Joy to the World” declares, not only will Christ defeat sins and sorrows, but also the thorns that infest the ground. We await the day when his blessings will be made known “far as the curse is found.”

The final aspect of Christ’s resurrection to consider is that it contains a warning–these blessings we have been discussing are conditional. They will come to those who have believed the gospel and placed their faith in Jesus Christ. For those who have rejected Christ, there will still be a resurrection, but it will not be to everlasting joy and blessedness. Rather, their portion will be “in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death” (Rev 21:8). This is a call for everyone to honestly examine our faith to determine if it is genuine. Do you long for his return? Do you experience the hope that comes from knowing we will be with him forever? Let’s hold firmly to Christ’s resurrection and the pattern, the promise, and the warning it gives us.

-Pastor Jonathan

 

New City Catechism – Week 49

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“Crown Him With Many Crowns”
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Q49: Where is Christ now?

A49: Christ rose bodily from the grave on the third day after his death and is seated at the right hand of the Father, ruling his kingdom and interceding for us, until he returns to judge and renew the whole world.

Christ rose from the dead in a material body. This is the uniform testimony of the gospels and New Testament letters. Paul summarizes this in 1 Corinthians 15, “that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve” (1 Cor. 15:4).

By appearances, Paul refers to the fact that Jesus showed himself bodily to the disciples. They touched him, heard his voice and even ate with him (John 20:27). They also saw him taken up into heaven and heard the angels say that he would return again as he had gone from them.

Where is Christ now? Psalm 110 foretold that Messiah would sit at God’s right hand until his enemies were made a footstool. This prophecy is referenced many times in the New Testament both by Jesus and the New Testament authors. The writer of Hebrews, for instance, quotes Ps 110 five times, e.g., “…After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (Heb. 1:3b), cf. also Hebrews 12:2.

The right hand represents power. Jesus is reigning in heaven with His Father. He both rules and sustains creation in sovereign power (Matthew 28:18, Hebrews 1:3, 1 Peter 3:22). Though Christ rules sovereignly, he does not rule at this time unopposed.1 Men, devils, kingdoms and rulers may set themselves against him, but in the end all will bow before Him (Phil 2:10, 1 Cor 15:24-25).

In addition to His rule, which is great comfort to His children, He also intercedes on their behalf as their faithful high priest (Hebrews 7:25, 9:24, Romans 8:24). His position next to His Father secures and guarantees our help and redemption.

-Pastor Jay

1A helpful distinction lies in the terms “sovereign” vs. “preceptive” will. God rules sovereignly such that nothing comes to pass that he has not ordained. But God commands men according to his preceptive will, which they in fact resist and disobey. Cf., RC Sproul, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith p. 67, Tyndale.

-Pastor Jay