Archive for the ‘God’s Kingdom’ Category


“Though” and “through” differ only by one small letter—the letter “r.” In American Sign Language, “r” is made by crossing the middle finger over the index finger. But crossed fingers have a history as sign language that far predates ASL. In the first centuries of the Church, when Christianity was illegal and Christians were vigorously persecuted, believers found ways to communicate their faith in subtle ways. Accompanying a greeting or farewell, crossed fingers were a code sign, identifying Christians to one another as “people of the cross.” The crossed fingers were a mute symbol for the cross of Christ and the redemption Christ’s death on that cross brought to all people. Today, crossed fingers mean something very different. When placed behind one’s back, they mean that one does not mean what one is saying. When held in one’s lap, they mean one is hoping something will or will not happen. Russ Chiodo, Director of Emergency Services for Beaver County, PA, was the person in charge of picking up the body parts from the 132 people who died on the ill-fated USAir Flight 427 that crashed on its way from Chicago to Pittsburgh. When asked what it was like to bag body parts with no human faces left, Chiodo confessed to the sight that affected him the most. “The thing I’m not going to be able to forget for a long time is finding a hand with its fingers crossed—as if for luck.”

Isn’t it ironic that the gesture of crossed fingers, first instituted by the early church as a symbol of the Cross of Christ and a certainty of the promises of God in Jesus, has digressed to represent the exact opposite…mere luck. In the completed work of Christ on our behalf we have the 100% absolute assurance of our salvation and the absolute guarantee of an inheritance “incorruptible and undefiled, reserved in heaven for us” (1 Peter 1:4). Luck has absolutely NOTHING to do with it.

The Cross in Genesis 1-11

Understand that Jesus was in the world from the Creation! This study will confirm that Jesus has been the way of Salvation from the very beginning, through the “Principle of the Cross!” A Principle that mankind for the most part rejected, just as they rejected Jesus in the flesh.

John 1:1-5 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:9-18 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth…And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and He is the Word of God. He has been in the world since He created it. Yet the world did not know Him. But all who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave the power and authority to become children of God. The Word became flesh, and we beheld His Glory. As we read last week, His Glory began at the Cross. At the Cross we see the Word of God full of Grace and truth. Because of the Cross we receive grace upon grace.

In 1 Corinthians 1, the Cross is described as a dividing point, a stumbling block, and a point of folly. So too is the Word of God.

Hebrews 4:11-13 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

The Word of God is a sharp two-edged sword. It reveals the thoughts and intents of our wicked and deceitful hearts. No one can be hidden from the Word, for it exposes us to the one to whom we must give account.

Just as the Cross was lifted up above this world, so the Word of God is lifted up above mankind, and the Word of God will be our judge. The Word of God will judge believers and unbelievers alike.

The Word of God separates unbelieving men from God. The Word of God separates unbelieving Christians from resting in God. That is why Christians are encouraged to strive to enter the rest of God through the Word of God, because it is living and active, able to cut away the dross of the world and leave that which is pure before God.

A.W. Tozer: “Our uncrucified flesh will rob us of purity of heart, Christ-likeness of character, spiritual insight, and fruitfulness; and more than all, it will hide from us the vision of God’s face, that vision which has been the light of the earth and will be the completeness of heaven.”

The Word of God has this power the same way that Jesus Christ had the power to bring sinful men to Holy God, through the Cross! In fact, it is because of the Cross that we have the Word of God! As W. A. Criswell famously said, “throughout the Bible there runs a Scarlet Thread of Redemption!”

Because of the Cross…We Have the Word

As we look at all we have “Because of the Cross,” we need to remember three Principles of the Cross:

1. The Cross is the Wisdom & Power of God.

    • The Cross reveals the Heart of God, His delight in mercy, justice and righteousness.

2. The Cross is opposed to the wisdom and power of man.

    • The cross requires humility. The cross strips man of all rights and powers. The Cross reveals the foolishness of man’s attempts at standing and self-righteousness.

A.W. Tozer: “The man who is crucified is facing only one direction… He [cannot] look back. The crucified man on the cross is looking only one direction and that is the direction of God, and Christ and the Holy Ghost… The man on the cross… has no further plans of his own… Somebody else made his plans for him, and when they nailed him up there all his plans disappeared… When you go out to die on the cross, you bid good-bye–you are not going back!

We want to be saved but we insist Christ do all the dying. No cross for us, no dethronement, no dying. We remain king within the little kingdom of Mansoul and wear our tinsel crown with all the pride of a Caesar; but we doom ourselves to shadows and weakness and spiritual sterility.”

3. The Cross is the Perfect Blood Sacrifice required by God

    • God declared that life is in the blood. To bring life to ‘dead in sin’ mankind, a perfect blood sacrifice had to be made.

A.W. Tozer: “The old cross is a symbol of death. God salvages the individual by liquidating him and then raising him again in newness of life. God offers life, but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life out of death. It always stands at the far side of the cross.”

We will see the Principle of the Cross throughout the Old Testament. The Principle that death leads to resurrection. The principle of “death with a view to increase” that characterizes the Gospel.

First death, then life. Death [leads to] resurrection. When we consent to death, then the life of Jesus can flow unhindered from us. It is never the other way. We cannot claim resurrection life first, and then by means of that put the flesh to death. We must first bow to the cross, and then God will effect the resurrection. (Ray Steadman)

With these three Principles in mind, let us see that “Because of the Cross…we have the Word of God!

In the Garden

Genesis 3:6-7 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

Something happened to Adam and Eve when they disobeyed God. Their eyes were opened and they could see their shame. Therefore, in their wisdom, they made some clothing out of fig leaves sewn together.

This is what I think happened. Psalm 104 1-2 says that God is clothed in splendor and majesty, covering himself with light as a garment. Adam and Eve, created in the image of God, were clothed in light. When they sinned, the light was gone, and they felt the shame of their sin. They attempted to cover up their shame. This is man’s wisdom. No repentance, simply cover it up, cope with it, pull yourself up by the bootstraps and move on.

Here is where we see the Cross first lifted up.

God calls out to Adam and says, “where are you?”

Adam says:

Genesis 3:10-13 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Sin has entered into the hearts of Adam and Eve. Instead of open fellowship with God, they feared Him and even hid from Him. Instead of repentance and return to God, they blame someone else.

God’s response is to place a curse upon man and woman and even the serpent.

But God’s solution to sin was the Principle of the Cross.

Genesis 3:21 And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

Here we see the first sacrifice for sin. Adam and Eve had to watch as God took one of those peaceful animals that they cared for, and kill it. They had to watch blood flow for the first time. Can you imagine how they felt? An innocent animal had to die because they disobeyed. They had to wear that animal’s skin. It was a constant reminder of God’s plan. Sin is always answered with sacrifice. Moreover, Sacrifice always results in Grace.

  • God covered them in Grace. (His provision allowed them to live)
  • God expelled them in Grace. (He did not want them to live in sin forever)

God must have instructed them in the Way of the Cross and the need for blood sacrifice to keep their relationship with God.

When they had children, they taught them about the need for an acceptable sacrifice unto God.

Cain

In Genesis 4, Cain, the oldest, brought a sacrifice from the fruit of the ground. He decided there was no need for a blood sacrifice.

Abel brought the firstborn of his flock. God accepted Abel’s offering, but disregarded Cain’s. Cain became angry.

Genesis 4:6-7 The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

The purport of the divine rebuke to Cain was this, “Why art thou angry, as if unjustly treated? If thou doest well (that is, wert innocent and sinless) a thank offering would have been accepted as a token of thy dependence as a creature. But as thou doest not well (that is, art a sinner), a sin offering is necessary, by bringing which thou wouldest have met with acceptance and retained the honors of thy birthright.” This language implies that previous instructions had been given as to the mode of worship; Abel offered through faith (Heb 11:4).[1]

Therefore, Cain, instead of humbling himself to God and offering a sacrifice for his sin, reacted in pride and offered what he thought was appropriate. He used his wisdom instead of God’s instruction. God rejected the sacrifice, for there was no provision for sin.

God would have accepted his offering if it had been accompanied with a blood sacrifice. But without blood, there is no remission of sins. Without the cross, we have no standing before God. God disregards us because of our sin.

Cain’s pride led to greater anger. Instead of offering a blood sacrifice to God, he shed the innocent blood of his brother. The Bible says, “Cain rose up against his brother.”

Instead of humbling himself before God in the shadow of the Cross, Cain rose up in pride and arrogance and murdered his righteous brother. Pride is always the enemy of the Cross.

Jude speaks of people that follow the “way of Cain”

Jude 1:10-11 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion.

The way of Cain applies to all those who approach God in man’s wisdom and man’s pride. The way of Cain denies the mercy of God found through blood atonement.

We can see this in the lineage of Cain-for it is the glorification of the flesh and all that man can do.

Look at the ability and pride of Cain:

  • Genesis 4:17, he is a builder of cities.
  • Genesis 4:21, he is the father of music.
  • Genesis 4:22, he is the father of craftsmen in brass and in iron.

As W. A. CRISWELL says:

Civilization without God is the line and the seed of Cain. It is the story of Sodom; it is the story of Gomorrah; it is the story of Babylon; it is the story of every great city and every great civilization that leaves God out of it. That is the story of Cain. It is the glorification of what man can do apart from God.

Seth

Therefore, Cain continued to multiply the kingdom of man. The Kingdom of man is represented by the line of Cain. The kingdom of man is represented by the mark upon his forehead. The kingdom of man was corrupting God’s kingdom. So God appointed a man, Seth.

Finally, after 130 years, Seth was born to Adam, a son in his own likeness, a son that God had appointed. Seth had a son Enosh, and at that time people began to call upon the Name of the Lord. (Gen 4:26)

Perhaps the Kingdom of God could be built now. But no, sin was at work.

Genesis 6:1-4 When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.

The sons of God (Seth’s line) started marrying the daughters of man. (I know most people think Angels intermarried, but Jesus made it clear that Angels’ can’t reproduce). I believe that the Godly children of Seth who were to raise up God’s Kingdom design intermarried with the fleshly Kingdom of Man line of Cain. This produced mighty men, men whose pride and abilities knew no bounds. The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Instead of humble men offering themselves to God, proud and arrogant men walked in the “Way of Cain.” The pride and arrogance of man was opposed to humility and sacrifice before God. They denied and even rebelled against the Principle of the Cross.

Therefore, God was grieved, for He was not able to practice mercy, justice and righteousness because of the sinfulness of man. But “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Noah alone was following the principle of the Cross. (Gen 6:8)

Noah and his family alone survived the worldwide flood that God sent upon sinful man. Through the flood, God reformed His creation, and brought forth a family that would follow the principle of the Cross.

1 Peter 3:18-20 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.

Noah preached the principle of the Cross, but man in his wisdom refused the message of the Cross.

He preached through Noah “when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah.” For 120 years, Noah had preached the Word of God. He saved his family but no one else. It was the Spirit of Christ who spoke through Noah in Noah’s day. In Christ’s day, those who rejected Noah’s message were in prison. The thought is that Christ’s death meant nothing to them just as it means nothing to a great many people today who, as a result, will also come into judgment.[2]

After the flood is over and the ground has dried, God opens the Ark and Noah and his family walks upon the cleansed Earth. Noah immediately builds an altar and offers sacrifices of all the clean animals and birds on the ark. This is the first time the word “altar[3]” is used in the Bible—Genesis 8:20.

3mizbēaḥ: A masculine noun meaning the altar, the place of sacrifice. It is a noun formed from the verb zāb̠aḥ, which means to slaughter an animal, usually for a sacrifice.

This is the principle of the Cross. It is the picture of redemption. The blood is poured out upon the altar and the animal is consumed in a fire unto the Lord.

Genesis 8:21-22 And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

God’s creation was restored through the principle of the Cross. The wisdom of God had prevailed over the wisdom of man. Man had survived the flood through the provision of God. Man was now offering the right offering to God in humility and praise. The burnt offering signified that this was a complete offering to God!

Nimrod

Now it does not take long to see man’s pride rear its ugly head in God’s renewed creation.

Genesis 10:8-10 Cush fathered Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty man. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD. Therefore, it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the LORD.” The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.

Nimrod’s Kingdom was not built on the principle of the Cross, but on rebellion and pride. In fact, the idea that Nimrod was not a mighty hunter before the Lord, but rather a mighty hunter AGAINST the Lord.

(Adam Clarke) His name Nimrod comes from ‏מרד‎, marad, “he rebelled”; and the Targum, on 1 Chronicles 1:10, says: Nimrod began to be a mighty man in sin, a murderer of innocent men, and a rebel before the Lord. The Jerusalem Targum says: “He was mighty in hunting (or in prey) and in sin before God, for he was a hunter of the children of men in their languages; and he said unto them, Depart from the religion of Shem, and cleave to the institutes of Nimrod.” The Syriac calls him a warlike giant. The word ‏ציד‎  tsayid, which we render hunter, signifies prey; and is applied in the Scriptures to the hunting of men by persecution, oppression, and tyranny. Hence it is likely that Nimrod, having acquired power, used it in tyranny and oppression; and by rapine and violence founded that domination which was the first distinguished by the name of a kingdom on the face of the earth[4]

Nimrod was building a kingdom opposed to the Lord, opposed to the principles of the Cross. This kingdom was all about man, and what man could do. It was a kingdom built on the foundation of Cain, a Kingdom that did not need God, did not need to sacrifice to Him.

Genesis 11:4-6 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.

God saw that man could do anything and the wisdom of man was united against the wisdom of God. Therefore, God did a “BLAH” thing. People started speaking “blah blah blah.” Once again God had displayed His power and wisdom to man. Once again, man ignored Him.

As we continue with the next phase of God’s redemptive plan, we will see a man called out of idolatry and man-worship. We will see a man whose very life was lived in the shadow of the cross.

The principle of the Cross is the thread that runs throughout the Bible.
  1. The Cross is the Wisdom and Power of God
  2. The Cross is opposed to the wisdom and power of Man
  3. The Cross is the perfect Blood Sacrifice

We have seen that God’s plan for this world and for us His creation has always been fellowship and life. Yet that must be done in humility and holiness. When sin entered this world, it made us men that rebel against God’s ways. We are inclined to stray, to be independent, to seek our own welfare. Humility, dependence, repentance are foreign to our nature. Therefore, we rebel against the Cross. We refuse to sacrifice to God in His way. We want to maintain control. Therefore, we deny the power and wisdom of God.

Without Christ, our lives are a sequence of “blah blah blah” to God. We are ants scrambling over the excrement of our pride and arrogance. All this can be changed by submitting to the Cross.


[1] Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset, David Brown, A Commentary: Critical, Experimental, and Practical on the Old and New Testaments, (Toledo, OH: Jerome B. Names & Co., 1884), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “GENESIS”.

[2] J. Vernon McGee, Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1983), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Chapter 3”.

[3] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “mizbēah.”

[4] . Adam Clarke, A Commentary and Critical Notes, (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1826), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Genesis 10”.

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Importance church covenantA mere two months after the Los Angeles Dodgers inked a new, two–year, $45 million guaranteed deal with power hitter Manny Ramirez, the slugger got hit with a 50–game suspension for using a banned performance–enhancing substance. The reason, a “Behavior” clause written into his contract. The 50 game suspension will save the Dodgers 8 million dollars.Manny Rameriz

Earlier this year Kellogg’s backed out of an endorsement deal with Michael Phelps because of a “Behavior Clause” they had written into the contract. You know them as “Morality Clauses”, but because of changing morals, they have become specific “behavior” clauses.

There was once a time when an advertiser could get an agent to agree to the following clause: “If [Celebrity] has committed any act that offends the community or any segment thereof and/or public morals and decency, such behavior shall be considered a material breach of this Agreement incapable of cure, and if in [Advertiser’s] sole judgment such breach is likely to cause a diminution in the value of the [Advertiser’s] commercial association with [Celebrity], then [Advertiser] shall have the right, in addition to any other rights [Advertiser] may have as a result of such breach, to immediately terminate this Agreement on written notice to [Celebrity]. In such event, there shall be no further compensation payable to [Celebrity] and such termination shall not limit or effect any other rights [Advertiser] may have against [Celebrity] under this Agreement on account of such termination.”

Phelps breaks Behavior ClauseHowever, society’s views of morality have changed, so contracts have gotten to be very specific as regards the “behavior” of the celebrities. With Michael Phelps, public drug use was clearly prohibited.

These behavior clauses have even entered the world of Big Banks and Big Business. The latest banking crisis underscored the importance of not appearing greedy in the face of massive government bailouts at taxpayer expense. The government refused to give “Bailout Funds” unless certain behavior standards were met. Corporate executives lost their jobs and had their pay cut because of lavish extravaganza’s and exorbitant bonuses while Americans saw Billions of dollars in savings wiped out. Now the excessive compensation and perks of CEO’s is under scrutiny of enraged shareholders.CEO Behavior Clause

In the sports world, in the corporate world, in the banking world, how we behave and act is very important, so important that people lose millions when they fail to live up to certain standards.

AIG Bailout and BonusesEven in the church, our behavior is important.  George Barna has become well-known because of the extensive research and surveys he conducts. He has noticed some alarming trends in the church, particularly in regards to our “Biblical World view”. A Survey published in March of this year produced these results:

For the purposes of the survey, a “biblical worldview” was defined as believing that absolute moral truth exists; the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches; Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic; a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today. In the research, anyone who held all of those beliefs was said to have a biblical worldview.Biblical Worldview

The same questions were asked of respondents in national surveys by Barna in 1995, 2000 and 2005. The results indicate that the percentage of adults with a biblical worldview, as defined above, has remained unchanged for more than a decade. The numbers show that 7% had such a worldview in 1995, compared to 10% in 2000, 11% in 2005, and 9% now. Even among born again adults, the statistics have remained flat: 18% in 1995, 22% in 2000, 21% in 2005, and 19% today.

Varying numbers of Americans embrace the different aspects of biblical worldview thinking. The survey found that:

  • One-third of all adults (34%) believe that moral truth is absolute and unaffected by the circumstances. Slightly less than half of the born again adults (46%) believe in absolute moral truth.
  • Half of all adults firmly believe that the Bible is accurate in all the principles it teaches. That proportion includes the four-fifths of born again adults (79%) who concur.
  • Just one-quarter of adults (27%) are convinced that Satan is a real force. Even a minority of born again adults (40%) adopt that perspective.
  • Similarly, only one-quarter of adults (28%) believe that it is impossible for someone to earn their way into Heaven through good behavior. Not quite half of all born again Christians (47%) strongly reject the notion of earning salvation through their deeds.
  • A minority of American adults (40%) are persuaded that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life while He was on earth. Slightly less than two-thirds of the born again segment (62%) strongly believes that He was sinless.
  • Seven out of ten adults (70%) say that God is the all-powerful, all-knowing creator of the universe who still rules it today. That includes the 93% of born again adults who hold that conviction.

troubling change in churchesGeorge Barna, who has directed this tracking research since the early Nineties, pointed out, “There are a several troubling patterns to take notice. First, although most Americans consider themselves to be Christian and say they know the content of the Bible, less than one out of ten Americans demonstrate such knowledge through their actions. Second, the generational pattern suggests that parents are not focused on guiding their children to have a biblical worldview. One of the challenges for parents, though, is that you cannot give what you do not have, and most parents do not possess such a perspective on life. That raises a third challenge, which relates to the job that Christian churches, schools and parachurch ministries are doing in Christian education. Finally, even though a central element of being a Christian is to embrace basic biblical principles and incorporate them into one’s worldview, there has been no change in the percentage of adults or even born again adults in the past 13 years regarding the possession of a biblical worldview.”Biblical_Worldview

Now why would any born again, saved child of God be anything less than 100% when it comes to a Biblical Worldview? I would guarantee that even in our church there are some members who would not score very high on Barna’s poll.

Why have Christians become so watered down when it comes to standards and behavior? Today you have more divorces in the church than in the world; you have believer’s living together; you have leaders of the church struggling with pornography and even getting divorced; you have homosexuality as an accepted behavior, even in many churches.

Should the church be held to higher standards of behavior? Should a church have a “behavior” clause for their members? Or should we concentrate only on our beliefs?

My Experience at Prairie Baptist Church.

Prairie Baptist churchI mentioned last week that my parents marriage was probably saved because they got involved and became members of a Bible teaching and preaching church. It was American Baptist and it was the early 1960’s. But by the time I was in ninth grade (1967) we started to have interesting discussions in youth group. Drug use – is it really wrong? The Bible – is it always right? Hell – is it literal or figurative? Sex before marriage – it it OK. But didn’t really try to present the definitive answer from the Word of God.

The one on Hell really was the last straw for my parents, plus the type of behavior our older youth we getting involved in. My parents became very concerned about what I was learning, but even more so for the type of behavior some of our youth were allowed to engage in. Standards were lacking, not even taught. The Bible was watered down and not taught as absolute.

James warns us that “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless” (Js 1:26).

In other words, if you profess to be a Christian, but you don’t live a changed life, you should take no comfort in your faith. In fact, the reality is that your faith (religion) should influence your behavior. If it does not, it is a sham, it is powerless. The reason the churches must demonstrate the power of Jesus Christ to transform lives is evident in what is really happening in America.

Seven Faith Tribes: Who They Are, What They Believe, and Why They Matter

Seve  Faith TribesIn this new book by George Barna, Mr Barna sees seven different faith groups that are influencing America. The two largest are of the Christian ‘tribe’. He distinguishes the tribes in this way: Casual Christians represent 66% of the adult population of the U.S. (The percentage of the adult population represented by the other half-dozen tribes included 16% who are Captive Christians, 2% Jews, 2% Mormons, 2% Pantheists, one-half of 1% Muslims, and 11% Skeptics.) Here are some of his answers to questions some have posed:

Question: You describe the Casual Christian tribe as spiritually middle-of-the-road, perhaps even ambivalent about their faith. Why, then, are they so important to the nation’s future?

Barna: Each of the seven tribes is important to our nation’s future because they include millions of American citizens. The Casual Christian tribe is especially significant because it represents a huge majority of the nation’s population – two out of every three adults. This particular tribe is comprised of significant proportions of minimally active born again Christians and moderately active but theologically nominal Christians. If a catalyst were added to this mix to deepen this tribe’s integration of faith and lifestyle, or even to simply create a more extensive sense of community and purpose within the tribe, unprecedented changes could occur.

Question: What have you found to be the appeal of Casual Christianity, as opposed to what draws people to the Captive Christian or even the Mormon tribes – that is, other tribes that are much more fervent about their faith?

Barna: Casual Christianity is faith in moderation. It allows them to feel religious without having to prioritize their faith. Christianity is a low-risk, predictable proposition for this tribe, providing a faith perspective that is not demanding. A Casual Christian can be all the things that they esteem: a nice human being, a family person, religious, an exemplary citizen, a reliable employee – and never have to publicly defend or represent difficult moral or social positions or even lose much sleep over their private choices as long as they mean well and generally do their best. From their perspective, their brand of faith practice is genuine, realistic and practical. To them, Casual Christianity is the best of all worlds; it encourages them to be a better person than if they had been irreligious, yet it is not a faith into which they feel compelled to heavily invest themselves.

Causual Christian vs Captive ChristianBarna: The lives of Captive Christians are defined by their faith; their worldview is built around their core spiritual beliefs and resultant values. Casual Christians are defined by the desire to please God, family, and other people while extracting as much enjoyment and comfort from the world as possible. The big difference between these two tribes is how they define a successful life. For Captives, success is obedience to God, as demonstrated by consistently serving Christ and carrying out His commands and principles. For Casuals, success is balancing everything just right so that they are able to maximize their opportunities and joys in life without undermining their perceived relationship with God and others. Stated differently, Casuals are about moderation in all things while Captives are about extreme devotion to their God regardless of the worldly consequences.

Why is it imperative that we reach out to casual Christians and impress upon them to become Captive Christians, (I CALL THEM COVENANT CHRISTIANS)?

Here is the Real World the Church is facing:

Sex Profanity Steal Lie Gossip Moral SinsAmerican society has become more intrigued by moral issues in recent years, as evidenced by the fact that 55% of adults discuss moral issues with others during a typical week. But a nationwide survey by The Barna Group indicates that Americans have also redefined what it means to do the right thing in their own lives.

A 2008 survey by The Barna Group asked adults which, if any, of eight behaviors with moral overtones they had engaged in during the past week. The behaviors included looking at pornography, using profanity, gambling, gossiping, engaging in sexual intercourse with someone to whom they were not married, retaliating against someone, getting drunk, and lying. Of those surveyed:

  • Twenty-eight percent had used profanity.
  • Twenty percent had gambled.
  • Nineteen percent had viewed pornography.
  • Twelve percent had gossiped.
  • Twelve percent had gotten drunk.
  • Eleven percent had lied.
  • Nine percent had engaged in sexual intercourse with someone to whom they were not married.
  • Eight percent had retaliated against someone.

One of the most stunning outcomes from the Barna survey was the moral pattern among adults under 25. The younger generation was more than twice as likely as all other adults to engage in behaviors considered morally inappropriate by traditional standards. Their choices made even the Baby Boomers – never regarded as a paragon of traditional morality – look like moral pillars in comparison.

For instance, two-thirds of the under-25 segment (64%) had used profanity in public, compared to just one out of five Boomers (19%). The younger group – known as Mosaics – was nine times more likely than were Boomers to have engaged in sex outside of marriage (38% vs. 4%), six times more likely to have lied (37% vs. 6%), almost three times more likely to have gotten drunk (25% vs. 9%) and to have gossiped (26% vs. 10%), and twice as likely as Boomers to have observed pornography (33% vs. 16%) and to have engaged in acts of retaliation (12% vs. 5%).

According to George Barna, who directed the survey, the results reflect a significant shift in American life.

“We are witnessing the development and acceptance of a new moral code in America,” said the researcher and author, who has been surveying national trends in faith and morality for more than a quarter-century. “Mosaics have had little exposure to traditional moral teaching and limited accountability for such behavior. The moral code began to disintegrate when the generation before them – the Baby Busters – pushed the limits that had been challenged by their parents – the Baby Boomers. The result is that without much fanfare or visible leadership, the U.S. has created a moral system based on convenience, feelings, and selfishness.

“The consistent deterioration of the Bible as the source of moral truth has led to a nation where people have become independent judges of right and wrong, basing their choices on feelings and circumstances. It is not likely that America will return to a more traditional moral code until the nation experiences significant pain from its moral choices.”

  • Head Belief is no good. Being a Casual Christian is NO GOOD! Only a Heart Belief that changes your heart and produces right behavior does good.
  • This is what Jesus taught was the foundation for building you life, building the church.

Wise man and Foolish ManLook at Luke 6:45-49

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great. Luke 6:45-49MATT_7_24C

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. Matthew 7:21-27

Morality Rooted in Heart BeliefsJesus says it doesn’t matter what you believe in your mind. Your belief will only produce change when it comes from a changed heart. But a changed heart will always bring forth a changed life. Belief’s only have power if they change the way you live. The reason there is so little difference between sinners and saints is because the great majority of believers that think they are born again are not!

You can stand up here and confess your belief that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, that he died on the cross for your sins, that he was buried and rose again. You can even go forward and confess Jesus before men, be baptized, but if your heart isn’t changed, and that change starts to show in the way you live and obey the WORD of GOD, you are still in your sins, you are still on your way to Hell.

John says “We know that we have come to know him IF we obey his commands” (1 John 2:3).

In Short, How We Live Matters. How We As A Church Lives Matters.

By  the way, we do have a behavior clause in our Church Constitution.. It is called our “Church Covenant”

WHAT IS A ‘CHURCH COVENANT’?

What is Church CovenantBrethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. Galatians 3:15

Purpose of CovenantThe Purpose of a Church Covenant is Five-Fold

  1. A CHURCH COVENANT IS A PROMISE – a promise made to God, to a local church, and to one’s self.
  2. A CHURCH COVENANT IS A SUMMARY OF HOW WE AGREE TO LIVE.  While our statement of faith is a good summary of what we believe, our church covenant is a summary of how we agree to live – more importantly, it is a summary of how God would have us live.  It does not include every explicit command regarding obedience, but it does give a general summary of what it means to live as a disciple of Christ.
  3. A CHURCH COVENANT IS A SIGN OF COMMITMENT – a commitment to God, to His church, and to personal holiness.
  4. A CHURCH COVENANT IS AN ETHICAL STATEMENT.  Historian Charles W. DeWeese writes, “A church covenant is a series of written pledges based on the Bible which church members voluntarily make to God and to one another regarding their basic moral and spiritual commitments and the practice of their faith” (Baptist Church Covenants, p. viii).   One theologian calls church covenants the “ethical counterpart to confessions of faith.”  A church covenant can be an important part of applying a Christian worldview to every aspect of our lives.  Inherent in the purpose of a church covenant is the understanding that church membership involves being held accountable to live in a manner consistent with a common understanding of Scripture.
  5. A CHURCH COVENANT IS A BIBLICAL STANDARD. A church covenant is helpful in a church that is practicing Biblical church discipline.  As members of a church, we exhort one another to live holy lives, and we challenge brothers and sisters persisting in sin.

WHERE DO COVENANTS COME FROM?

Now that we know what church covenants are, where do they come from?  Well, not from the Bible – not, at least, in the sense of being able to turn to the Book of Covenants chapter 3.  But we do see examples of covenants both in the Old and the New Testaments – covenants between God and man, and between man and man.  Moses gives a covenant from God to the people of Israel.  Ezra and Nehemiah do so as well.   And in the NT we find that “Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, which is the new covenant in Christ’s blood”.   Primarily, church covenants come from the understanding that churches are to be composed of people who are truly born again.  This is what we call regenerate church membership.

In the 16th century, men and women of deep conviction broke away from the Roman Catholic Church to form congregations who understood the importance of the doctrine known as justification by faith alone in Christ alone.  No longer did baptism or membership bring supposed new life.  Joining and being part of a church was no longer a civic duty or just part of growing up.  It was becoming what it was always intended to be – a response of faith to the truth of the gospel.  And in this response of faith we gain the most amazing callings: children of the living God, ambassadors of Christ, a royal priesthood; we become the bearers of God’s name in the world.  Listen to God’s word on this issue.  “I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them.  Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the sovereign Lord, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes” (Ezek 36:23).  We are called to be living witnesses of God’s holiness!

How Important is Keeping Our Church Covenant?

church-covenantA friend of mine was called to pastor a Baptist church in a small town south of Oklahoma City in 1989. Not long after he was there an acquaintance in the community pulled him aside at a restaurant and asked him if he knew. He said “knew what”. His acquaintance said “Did you know the chairman of the deacons is a homosexual?” He confessed his surprise and then went to the deacon, who confirmed what evidently everyone in town knew. When he then brought it before the deacons, they said they knew, but didn’t see the problem.  He then approached the entire church, and they were OK with it. So, he resigned.

In the last church I pastored, we had developed a nice worship team lead by a couple of talented gals. One day I went and visited with a family that had been there the Sunday before. They enjoyed the church, but they wanted to know why one of these gals was leading the music. The reason was that he confessed going into the local bar (Wally’s) and this gal was a bartender there. He just thought it strange that she could be a bartender and lead church music on Sunday.

I told him that I would check into it. Sure enough, it was the truth. I talked with her and pointed out our church covenant, and said that she would have to chose what she wanted to do, serve liquor or serve on the praise team. She said she considered the bar her mission field, really enjoyed what she was doing, and so she resigned from leading music. Of course her friends resigned as well. They eventually left the church. Did it cause some pain? Yes. Was it necessary? Yes. O, by the way, this same gal had wanted to meet with me to see if I thot it was ok to divorce her husband, simply because he didn’t communicate with her very well.

She no longer works at the bar, and we are still friends, and she is still married. By the way, Dennis Queen a few years later was able to lead that deacon to the Lord. He just this year preached his funeral.

All across the country church denominational leaders are being attacked by people pushing to allow homosexual pastors. Several denominations have split because they decided to allow such as pastors.

Churches must make a choice as to how they will believe and act towards each other and the world. Any church can act like a church, can talk like a church, but in their heart, there is no Power of God to live godly lives in the dark, in the areas where people aren’t looking.

Jesus cares that we live Holy Lives, that we walk in the Power of the HOLY Spirit.

Christianity is about living a different kind of life, not just talking about different kinds of concepts.

The church is called to live and act differently.  In agreeing to a church covenant, one is agreeing to be held accountable by a body of believers.  Likewise, one is agreeing to hold a body of believers accountable.  To hold accountable simply means “to take responsibility for.”

A CHURCH COVENANT, VOID OF THIS RESPONSIBILITY, IS A WORTHLESS DOCUMENT.

Scripture highlights our need for accountability.

  • Read Matt 18:15-17 – We do not have a license to sin.  More than that, if we do keep on sinning, we risk proving that we have not been given new life from God.  Matthew 18 gives us instruction about what to do with a persistently unrepentant sinner.
  • Read 1Cor 5 – If the Corinthian congregation allowed this man to remain a member of the church, he (and others) may get the wrong impression that his sexual immorality is consistent with what it means to be a Christian.  Weaker members of the body will be confused and hurt as well.  And the church will risk losing her reputation in the local community.

There will always be sin in the church because we all sin.  What we are talking about is how to deal with people whose lives are characterized by sin, people who agree with their sin against God and His Word, and who try to rationalize their sin instead of pleading before God for forgiveness.  The purpose of such accountability is not to judge people worthy of hell-fire – that’s never been the church’s role.  It’s to protect them from deceiving themselves about their own spiritual state, to protect the corporate witness of the church from being smeared by the non-Christian behavior of professing believers, and to restore the disobedient person to right relationship with God and warm fellowship with the church.

What then should we expect out of a church covenant?  Expect it to be Biblical – based 100% upon Scripture.  Expect it to be focused on the whole body of believers – it should be corporate not private.  And expect it to be clear and easy to understand by all who desire to join this fellowship.

The church covenant is equal parts promise, summary of expectations, ethical statement, and biblical standard. We summarize how we promise to live together in the covenant. It forms the ethics, or the moral principles, of our worldview and holds out a biblical standard by which we live.Joshua renews covenant

Why is this important? Just as Joshua led his people to affirm their following God’s Word, so I believe church’s should regularly affirm their allegiance to their Church Covenant. I believe a church should periodically have a Covenant Service. I believe it should be read at every communion service. The Covenant should be the binding and empowering force of every church.

Whenever people want to join our church, they should be willing to affirm our Covenant.

By featuring the covenant in our life together, we strive to protect ourselves from individual and corporate sin. Of equal importance, we spur one another on to live in light of a greater covenant, one initiated by love, sealed by sacrifice, and kept for eternity by our Savior, Jesus Christ.

There are just two final points to make about our church covenant.

  • First, our church covenant should be a challenge.
  • Second our church covenant should be a comfort.

1. Our church covenant is a challenge simply because there are times when living a godly life is hard. It is also a challenge because each member of the church now bears responsibility for the lives of other believers – this is that “accountability goes both ways” part.  This is serious responsibility.  Not the kind of responsibility you have just because you are somebody’s friend, but the kind of responsibility that comes from saying, before God, “I care for you and will work to encourage you in your discipleship.”  This challenge is a serious thing.

2. This covenant isn’t just about us challenging each other to be better Christians.  Our church covenant is also a comfort. A comfort to know you’ll be cared for and prayed for, not perfectly, but faithfully.  The comfort is that by joining a church and covenanting with other believers, you now have Christians who are going to build you up when you are down.  You have Christians who are committed, before God, to walk with you, pray with you, serve you.  You have Christians who are so concerned about your spiritual walk, that if they see you break the covenant you have made as a disciple of Christ, they will exhort you to turn back; and if you don’t, they’ll do all they can to make the gravity of your sin clear.  This is our ideal, our vision, what we strive for.

“A new command I give you: love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Here is the “Champions Covenant” for our church. The numbers correspond to verses listed at the end:

The Champion’s Covenant

Introductionchampionscovenant_

B elieving that Jesus Christ is the head of the church, and the church is the body of Christ, and that only by the Holy Spirit is one made alive to God and placed “in Christ” and believing further that the local church is the extension of the Body of Christ and can only be joined by those already “in Christ”, I make the following two affirmations:

  • I have been born again by the Holy Spirit, having personally repented of my sin before God, sought and received His forgiveness, believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ—crucified, buried, and resurrected—as my one-and-only Savior and Lord.
  • I have identified myself publicly as a Christian and have followed my Lord in baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

The Promises

Having given ourselves to God by our faith in Jesus Christ, and having adopted the Word of God as our rule of faith and practice, and as members of this local Body of Christ, we now give ourselves to one another in this solemn covenant. We hereby promise:

  • To be committed to each other in seeking to love and obey Jesus Christ1,5; and for His sake love2, accept3, and forgive4 each other with affectionate care and watchfulness.
  • To join with fellow members to seek God’s will in our common decision-making; to allow every member the privilege of seeking to influence the church in its pursuit of God’s will6; to accept congregational decisions without grumbling7; and to work to prevent division in the body8.
  • love_one_another_To help one another grow in Jesus Christ by building up one another 9, bearing one another’s burdens10, encouraging one another11, exhorting one another12, praying for one another, confessing our sins to one another, speaking the truth in love to one another, admonishing one another, , teaching one another, comforting one another, submitting to one another, serving one another, patiently bearing with one another, being hospitable to one another,  being kind and tenderhearted to one another.13
  • To work together for the continuance of a faithful evangelical ministry in this church, as we support and sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline and doctrines. As we are being built up we will reach out to the lost and to the fallen, and through our love and service seek to bring them into fellowship with Jesus Christ. Through self-denial, faith and good works we endeavor to grow together in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.14-21
  • To practice Biblical stewardship22 of our resources, and to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the Gospel to all nations.
  • To seek, by God’s grace, to live carefully in the world, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to be an example in our speech and conduct24,25, purposing to lead new and holy lives in the power of the Holy Spirit, especially with regard to the following:
  • To use chemical substances such as alcohol and drugs only as informed by the teachings of the Bible26, wise medical counsel, and the dictates of the law.
  • To flee sexual immorality27; to shun pornography28; to reserve sexual activity solely for one man and one woman united in the covenant of marriage30;  to not initiate a divorce, unless the spouse decisively and physically deserts the relationship, commits repeated, unrepentant adultery, is guilty of protracted, unrepentant life-endangerment, or is guilty of physical and/or sexual abuse of a child or minor.31
  • To protect and defend the lives of our children from the moment of their conception; to bring up those in our home in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and by a pure and loving example seek the salvation of our family, teaching and encouraging them to love, follow and serve God.
  • To practice justice and compassion toward all people, especially the poor, the sick, the disabled, widows, and orphans.
  • To conduct all business in honesty and integrity32, counting it our chief business in life to extend the influence of Christ in society33.
  • To submit to the leadership of the Holy Spirit and pursue the fruit that He brings forth34and to work and pray for the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, that the Kingdom of God may come, and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

The Protection:

We enter into this covenant voluntarily and affirm the ambitions of this covenant as our own. We realize that we can only fulfill this covenant through the power of Jesus Christ living in us. We invite fellow members to pray for us, teach us, correct us and rebuke us, if necessary, in a spirit of gentleness and humility should we stray from the Lord’s commands. We voluntarily submit ourselves to one another and to the biblical authority of this church35. If we fail to live up to this covenant, we commit to yield to correction with meekness, to seek forgiveness and reconciliation, and to turn from our sin, relying on God’s grace to lift us up. Should church discipline ever be required, it will always be undertaken for the purpose of restoration to fellowship with God and with this covenant community – and it will always be done in accordance with Scriptural procedures in Matthew 18:15-22 and Galatians 6:1. We further commit to never refuse forgiveness and reconciliation in the face of Godly repentance.36

If we find ourselves unwilling to try to fulfill this covenant, we commit to remove our self from this congregation. If relocation outside the community prevents us from fulfilling this covenant, we commit to unite with another congregation and to continue to pursue growth as a Christian.

The Blessing

May the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of God, and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit Be With Us All. Amen.37

PPBC-Champions Covenant

1brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1-2

2and this is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. 1 john 3:23

3 to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. Ephesians 1:6

4and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as god for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

5if ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the father hath loved me, so have i loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my father’s commandments, and abide in his love. John 15:7-10

6hard waybut now hath god set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: and those members of the body, which we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but god hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacked: that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 1 Corinthians 12:18-27

7neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. 1 Corinthians 10:10

8that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 1 Corinthians 12:25

9but ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the holy ghost, Jude 1:20

10bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

11not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:25

12but exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:13

13And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

14 for we are the circumcision, which worship god in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Philippians 3:3

15 and they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Acts 2:42 confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16 I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. 1 Timothy 2:8

16study to shew thyself approved unto god, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 timothy 2:15 till I come; give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 1 Timothy 4:13

17not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Hebrews 10:25

18I speak as to wise men; judge ye what i say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. 1 Corinthians 10:15-17

19now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, i would not have you ignorant. 1 Corinthians 12:1

20go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father, and of the son, and of the holy ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Matthew 28:19-20

21for, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. Galatians 5:13 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. Luke 19:10 But  grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To him be the glory both now and to the day of  eternity. Amen. 2 Pet 3:18

22moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. 1 Corinthians 4:2 as each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of god’s varied grace: 1 peter 4:10 Jesus said to them, “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to god the things that are god’s.” And they marveled at him. Mark 12:17

23then came peter to him, and said, lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Matthew 18:21

24when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 1 peter 3:2 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Titus 2:8 let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. Colossians 4:6 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 2 Peter 1:4

25for this is the will of god, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor; not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the gentiles which know not god: that no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For god hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but god, who hath also given unto us his holy spirit. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8

26not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 1 timothy 3:3 deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. 1 timothy 3:8 (no longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.) 1 timothy 5:23 older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, Titus 2:3 and be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the spirit; Ephesians 5:18 for a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of god; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; Titus 1:7 who hath woe? Who hath sorrow? Who hath contentions? Who hath babbling? Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Proverbs 23:29-33 or do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy spirit within you, whom you have from god? You are not your own, 1 Corinthians 6:19

27flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the lord out of a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:22

28for out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone. Matthew 15:19-20

Focus on the Family studies that have found that 43% of families say pornography is a problem in their home. And while she acknowledges that the spot has some fun at the porn-consumer’s expense (the last joke in the ad is about the porn-buyer’s mom finding out what he’s purchasing), she says that “many of these people’s experiences with pornography is not funny. Some of their families have been devastated by it.”

29likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 1 Timothy 2:9

30now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “it is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 1 Corinthians 7:1-5

31and Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore god has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” Matthew 19:3-9 now as a concession, not a command, I say this. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from god, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. To the married I give this charge (not I, but the lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? 1 Corinthians 7:6-16 then said he unto the disciples, it is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Luke 17:1-2 husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Colossians 3:19

32in the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

33and as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. Luke 6:31

34so then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the spirit of god are sons of god. Romans 8:12-14 but the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Galatians 5:22 if we live in the spirit, let us also walk in the spirit. Galatians 5:25

35obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. Hebrews 13:17 giving thanks always and for everything to god the father in the name of our lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:20-21 watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity. I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) that ye submit yourselves unto such, and to everyone that helpeth with us, and laboureth. 1 Corinthians 16:13-16

“If your brother sins against you go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Then peter came up and said to him, “lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. Matthew 18:15-22

36For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter. 2 Corinthians 7:10-11

37The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. 2 Corinthians 13:14


I had a call this week from the daughter of a couple that lives near our church. Many of you would recognize her parents name. Seems her parents have been living together the last 20 years or so and never got married. Now they are thinking about making it legal and are looking into having a quaint church wedding. She said that because I was the priest they would want me to do the wedding. I corrected her of course, but I said that as Pastor I take marriage very seriously.

For Your Information I have four prerequisites that must be met before I will bless the marriage of a man and woman.

  1. The couple must believe that marriage is a Covenant Vow before God
  2. They must not be living together
  3. They must go through premarital counseling before I agree to marry them.
  4. They must have the blessings of both sets of parents.

We see the church out of focusSome of you are thinking, Brother Jim, that seems pretty harsh. After all, they have been living together and need to make it official. Plus they are our neighbors, and this is a chance to reach out to them. I understand your thoughts, but consider this: Do we ever have an excuse to take God for granted? NO! God is Holy, He is Righteous. He has standards and He reigns in Heaven whether we acknowledge Him or not. One day everyone will have an appointment with the God who created them and will answer for why they took Him for granted. If we can’t ever take God for granted, then we can’t take Jesus for granted. And if we can’t take Jesus for granted, we can’t take His wife for granted. And the church is His wife. Now when it comes to the church, the bride of Christ, we see a Universal application, but we also see a local application.

I believe Pleasant Prairie Baptist can be a great church. I believe we are sitting in a mission field. And we need to start taking our church more seriously. We can not take it for granted, just as we wouldn’t dare think of taking God for granted. I believe the community around Pleasant Prairie takes us for granted. They see us as a qaint little country church instead of seeing us as the powerful Bride of Jesus Christ. I think that is because we have failed to be a church, we have failed to be a bride, we have taken the Word of God for granted.There seems to be a couple problems in America:

  • We are extremely self-loving.
  • We dishonor the Word of God.

Because we love ourselves we tend to do what we want when we want it. Because we dishonor God’s Word, we dishonor God, we dishonor the church, we dishonor preachers, we dishonor pastors. When you dishonor God’s Word, you start to dishonor everything about God and what God says is important. We dishonor marriage, we dishonor the family, we dishonor our relationships with each other.

So for the next two weeks I want us to see from God’s Word Why Pleasant Prairie Baptist Church was put here on the corner of 215th & Y, and then I want to see from God’s Word what we should be doing so that we do not take God’s Word for granted. To do so we need to answer 2 Questions:

  • What Makes a Church?
  • What is Membership All About?

First, let’s look at Black’s Law Dictionary and see what our Courts say a church is.

A body or community of Christians, united under one form of government by the profession of one faith, and the observance of the same rituals and ceremonies. Black’s Law Dictionary 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th eds.

jesus keys to peterLet’s see how this meshes with how Jesus Views His Church:

  • He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, THOU ART THE CHRIST, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, THAT THOU ART PETER Petros (stone), and upon this rock petra (Christ is the great foundation, the “chief corner-stone,”—Vincent’s) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Matthew 16:15-19

1. Jesus says the church is something He is Building.

  • Jesus is the Architect, the owner, the developer, the reason there is a church.

2. Jesus says His church has Great Power.

  • Stronger than Hell, Able to Bring Heaven down to Earth

3. Jesus says His Church is built upon Stones that all Declare the same Message.

  • Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. The Church is all about Jesus and His Living in us, empowering us to reach out to those who are without Jesus.

1. The Church is a Living Building of “Called out Ones”

Jesus says “I will build my church”

  • Church Universal
  • Church Local

Church made of Living StonesChrist appears here, not as the foundation, but as the architect: “On this rock will I build.” The church is a collection of pieces of living rocks that when combined by the power of God are impenetrable. Peter was the first, just as Abraham was the first.

A. Jesus Selects Living Materials:

  • John 15:19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
  • John 17:16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
  • What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 1 Corinthians 6:19

church is an altarB. Jesus Transforms “called out believers” into “LIVING STONES”

  • To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious. Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:4-5
  • And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 2 Corinthians 6:16

The church is to be like the altar of stones upon which the Jews sacrificed to Holy God.

  • Exodus 20:24 An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.

C. Jesus Uses Special Stones to Build the Church

  • And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: Ephesians 4:11-1

2. The Church is the Power of Christ to an Enslaved World

We have the AUTHORITY & POWER of our King.

  • King Jesus Will ReignMatthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
  • Ephesians 1:22-23 And hath put all [things] under his feet, and gave him [to be] the head over all [things] to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
  • 1 Corinthians 12:25 That there should be no schism in the body; but [that] the members should have the same care one for another.

We follow an unseen King, and obey His commands. That obedience keeps us in His Kingdom and not in the devil’s. As long as we obey our King, we have our King’s Authority in this world.

reconciliationWe are ON MISSION to be Ambassadors to the World

Since Jesus is reigning in an undisclosed location, and since He is still seeking more living stones to keep building His church, He needs you and me to be Ambassadors to this enslaved world.

  • Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 jesus pierced cross

We are always on mission. This world is always watching the King’s people. We are to go into all this world and hold up the Good News of Jesus Christ. But we are not to merely say it, we are to show it!

3. The Church consists of Believers in a Covenant Relation with Jesus Christ.

  • We Have a Responsibility to Each Other because We are in Christ.

We are not a collection of lonely islands. No we are a collection of stones that are made into a huge rocky peak, by the power of God through our Belief and Confession of this Blood Covenant.

  • From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. Ephesians 4:16

I can’t see it, I can’t even feel it sometimes, but there is a bond that is stronger than anything else I’ve ever faced. That bond is my marriage with my wife. That bond may be just a piece of paper filed in the Jackson County Courthouse. But it is a bond designed by God to be so tough, that if you ever break it, it will mess your life up and leave scars that only Jesus can heal.

God_cuts_covenant-abrahamWhen you come to Jesus because His Holy Spirit has convicted you of your sin, and has spoken into the wee small crevices of your heart, a bond was forged between you and God. God says that bond will never be broken because He places the seal of His Holy Spirit within your life. You may not feel it, you may not sense it, but GOD LIVES IN YOU! And if you turn away from God, you neglect His word, it will mess you up! If it doesn’t mess you up to ignore Jesus Christ and neglect Him, there never was that bond.

It’s like marriage, you know it when you neglect it and turn away from it.

Now because of this Bond we have with God through Jesus Christ, we have a responsibility to love and pray and support others who have entered into this relationship with Jesus. The easiest way to take care of one another is through a local Bible Believing, Bible Preaching Church. The local church is built by Jesus on the Power of our Communion with Him through our Covenant Confession with Him.communion-WITH-JESUS-HANDS

I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. 1 Corinthians 10:15-17

My wife and I have experienced the Power of our Covenant Relationship in Joining in the care of our Children and now our grandchildren. We have begun our own body of Tompkins, and I pray that we will all be built upon Jesus Christ.

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. 1 Corinthians 12:12-26

  • We Have a Responsibility to Build Strong Marriages and Families because they Reflect the Power of Christ to the World.

The Church is the Bride of Christ:

Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. Ephesians 5:21-33

The Church (those written in the Book of Life) is the Bride of Christ

bride christ marriageAnd there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel. And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Revelation 21:9-27

We See that as far as God and His Plans are concerned, the Church is central, it is key.

So Why is it important to Join a Church? When we are born again we become members of the church universal, we are baptized into one Body. Why do we need to join a Local Church?

How Important is Church Membership?

The leadership of Pleasant Prairie Baptist Church considers membership to be important from a polity and relational perspective.

  • Polity: only members are allowed to have a say in the direction of our church by voicing their concerns and by voting.
  • Relational: Membership enjoins us to certain responsibilities and obligations as detailed in our church covennt.

We believe church membership is very important for our Spiritual Well-Being, as the following illustrates:

Five Proofs of the Mandate for Membership in a Local Church

Each of these proofs reveal that lack of membership would minimize or deny our spiritual growth in Christ.

1) The Metaphor of the Body

Church membership is implied in the metaphor of the body in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31. The original meaning of the word ‘member’ is member of a body, like hand and foot and eye and ear. That’s the imagery behind the word ‘member’ in the text. Verse 12: “Just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.”

So the question this imagery raises for the local church that Paul is describing in 1 Corinthians 12 is: Who intends to be treated as a hand or foot or eye or ear of this body? There is a unity and organic relationship implied in the imagery of the body. There is something unnatural about a Christian attaching himself to a body of believers and not being a member of the body.

2) Christians Required to Submit to Their Leaders

Church membership is implied in the biblical requirement of Christians to be submitted to a group of church leaders, elders, or pastors. The point here is that without membership, who is it that the New Testament is referring to who must submit to a specific group of leaders? Some kind of expressed willingness or covenant or agreement or commitment (that is, membership) has to precede a person’s submission to a group of leaders.

Consider the way the New Testament talks about the relationship of the church to her leaders.

  • Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. (Hebrews 13:17)
  • We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13)
  • Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. (1 Timothy 5:17)

How is this leadership and this submission going to work if there is no membership defining who has made the commitment to be led and who has been chosen as leaders? If we downplay the importance of membership, it is difficult to see how we could take these commands to submit and to lead seriously and practically.

3) Shepherds Required to Care for Their Flock

shepherds care for the flockChurch membership is implied in the way the New Testament requires elders to care for the flock in their charge. Of course elders can extend their love to anyone and everyone, and should, within the limits of their ability. But the question is whether the Bible tells elders that they are to have a special responsibility and care for a certain group—a group of members. Consider Acts 20:28 where Paul tells the elders how to care for their flock.

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. Acts 20:8

This verse does not say elders cannot visit unbelievers or those who are not yet members. But it does make clear that their first responsibility is to a particular flock. How are they to know who their flock is? Who are we as elders and pastors responsible for? For whom will we give an account to God?

The way Peter speaks to the elders in 1 Peter 5 is even more clear on this point. Verses 2-3: “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.”

“Those in your charge” (your portion, your lot) implies that the elders knew whom they were responsible for. This is just another way of talking about membership. If a person does not want to be held accountable by a group of church leaders or be the special focus of the care of a group of church leaders, they will resist the idea of membership. And they will resist God’s appointed way for them to live and be sustained in their faith.

4) The Church Is to Discipline Its Members

Church membership is implied by the way the church is supposed to discipline its members. Consider the implication of Matthew 18:15-17 where “the church” (ekklesia) appears to be the final court of appeal in matters of church authority as it relates to membership.

If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

If there is no church membership, how can you define the group that will take up this sensitive and weighty matter of exhorting the unrepentant person and finally rendering a judgment about his standing in the community? It’s hard to believe that just anyone who showed up claiming to be a Christian could be a part of that gathering. Surely, “the church” must be a definable group to handle such a weighty matter. You know who you mean when you “take it to the church.”

5) Excommunication Exists

Church membership is implied by the simple fact that excommunication even exists. Paul implies this in 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 where he deals with the necessity of putting someone out of the church. He says, “What have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. ‘Purge the evil person from among you.’”

There are two implications here: One is that there is an “in the church” group and an “outside the church” group. Being in the church is definable. The other implication is that a person can be removed from being “in the church.” Such a formal removal would not be possible if there were no such thing as a clear membership—who is an accountable part of this body, and who is not?

Expectation for All Believers

So for these five reasons and more we believe that membership is a New Testament expectation for all believers. Each of us should be a member of a local body of believers.

  • We should take responsibility to discipline those of the body who do not repent from public sin that brings reproach on the name of Christ.

  • We should declare ourselves part of the body so that if we are wayward, we ourselves would be liable to such exclusion.

  • We should take our position under the leadership and authority of our church leaders.

  • And we should find our place in the organic whole as a body part—a member—of a local body of Christ.

That is God’s plan for us and for Pleasant Prairie Baptist Church. That is what we mean by membership. All of those aspects of membership are rooted in the truth that the local church is an expression of the universal church. Part of what it means to belong to the body of Christ is to belong to a local body.

A Blood-Bought Gift of God’s Grace

Church bought through the crucifixionThe New Testament tells of no Christians who are not accountable members of local churches in the sense that we have just seen. “Lone-Ranger Christians” are a contradiction because becoming a Christian means being united to Christ, and union with Christ expresses itself in union with a local body of believers. It seems to us that in the New Testament, to be excluded from the local church was to be excluded from Christ. This is why the issue of membership is so important.

Are you an accountable member of a local church? Not just: Is your name somewhere? But, are you committed to discipline and being disciplined according to biblical standards? Have you publicly declared your willingness to be shepherded and to be led by the leaders of a local church? Do you see yourself and your gifts as part of an organic ministering body? Do you show by your firm attachment to Christ’s body that you are attached to Christ?

Church membership is a blood-bought gift of God’s grace. More than most of us realize, it is a life-sustaining, faith-strengthening, joy-preserving means of God’s mercy to us. We urge you not to deprive yourself of this blessing.

Jim and Clare TompkinsWhen I was about seven years old, my mom went away for a while. I did not know what was going on, but I found out later that there was problems between my mom and dad. Dad was a traveling salesman, gone 4 and 5 days a week, and Mom was raising three rambunctious boys. I think something serious happened, because Mom went away to Texas to live in a Psychiatric Hospital. She had a nervous breakdown. She went through electro-shock therapy. I had to go live with a strange family for a while because my Dad still travelled. My Mom and Dad almost didn’t make it. Somehow, Mom came back home and started dragging us to the Prairie Baptist Church down the street. She started making friendships with good caring friends. A couple men started visiting my dad. Glenn and Merl faithfully called on my dad, and didn’t judge him when he smoked and drank in front of them. They just kept inviting him to church. Finally he went, and went and went. Something different was going on in my family. Mom and Dad weren’t fighting like before. Before I knew it, Mom and Dad joined the church. Dad started taking a leadership role. He was different! It was that church and Jesus Christ that made a difference in our family, and the same has continued to make a difference in my family and now my kid’s families.


The church is Vital and Powerful and is used by Jesus Christ to transform sinners into the children of God!


Battle is the LordsFollow me to glimpse a scene where we find a teenager too young to enlist in the Army. He is bringing a care package for his brothers when he witnesses a disturbing sight. The entire Army of mighty men is cowering in fright because of one enemy soldier. The taunting of one enemy soldier has brought the Army of God to their knees in fear. Then this young boy gets riled up and wants to fight this enemy soldier. He goes out to face him, and the enemy soldier known as Goliath makes fun of the young boy. “Am I a dog that come at me with sticks”

This young boy called David makes an amazing statement that we would be well to understand:

David warns Goliath1 Samuel 17:46-47 (NKJV) This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.”

The Battle Belongs to the Lord! The Battle Belongs to the Lord. Petra sings a song:

In heavenly armour we’ll enter the land
The battle belongs to the Lord
No weapon that’s fashioned against us shall stand
The battle belongs to the Lord

Mine Eyes Have Seen the ComingAs we celebrate Independence Day, our Journey through Joshua brings us to Joshua 10, providing us a glimpse at the longest day in the history of this world. At the end of that hard day of fighting we can well imagine Joshua and his men breaking out in this song:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

Our God is Marching On

Moses God El GibborJoshua 10 reveals the truth that we had better learn to grasp in our life, the truth that David learned even in his youth, a truth that America used to embrace: The Battle is The Lord’s. We can say God is Loving and merciful and forgiving, but unless we realize that God is El Gibbor God the Mighty Warrior, we will never truly understand the nature of God.

We first see God called El Gibbor in Deuteronomy 10:17. Moses in Deuteronomy 9 & 10 is preparing His people for their crossing into the promised land. He is reminding them of all God has done over the past 40 years. The way He miraculously delivered them from Egypt and how he sustained them in the desert wilderness. He recounts how God gave him the 10 commandments, not once, but twice. He reminds them of His covenant with them and how they must submit and not be stiff-necked. For the Lord our God is God of Gods and Lord of Lords, MIGHTY (Gibbor) and Awesome. (Deut 10:17)

Battle is the Lords MosesWhen Israel started to stray from the Lord after they had entered the promised land, Judges 2:15 reveals “Every time Israel went out to battle, the Lord fought against them, causing them to be defeated, just as he had warned. And the people were in great distress.”

If America does not return to our Confession and Belief in “One Nation Under God” we run the risk of finding ourselves fighting against God and suffering defeat in our battles, causing great distress here at home. This may already be the case as you examine the results of our battles since the Vietnam War.

One Nation Under GodThe Battle is the Lord’s and God is always on the winning side. God is the winning side.

When we get in step with El Gibbor, we will find that He is the Mighty Warrior, and no foe, no problem, no obstacle is too great for Him to defeat.

  • MOSES Declared to the Hebrews “…Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will show to you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.”     [Exod 14:13,14]
  • MOSES told Joshua: “When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the LORD thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And it shall be, when ye are come nigh unto the battle…let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them; for the LORD your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you. Deuteronomy 20:1-4
  • Deborah told Barak:  “Get ready! This is the day the Lord will give you victory over Sisera, for the Lord is marching ahead of you.”
  • Jonathon told his armor bearer: 1 Samuel 14:6 (NLT) “the Lord will help us, for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!”
  • Jahaziel the son of Zechariah told King Jehoshaphat: [2 Chronicles 20:15] “This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”
  • David wrote: [Psalms 24:7-10]  Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle!
  • Solomon wrote: [Proverbs 21:31] The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.
  • King Hezekiah said this about the King of Assyria: [2 Chronicles 32:8] With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.”
  • Isaiah wrote: [Isaiah 42:12-13] Let the whole world glorify the Lord; let it sing his praise. The Lord will march forth like a mighty hero; he will come out like a warrior, full of fury. He will shout his battle cry and crush all his enemies.
  • King Asa Cried Out: “LORD, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee.”   II Chronicles 14:11
  • Paul wrote: Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ… II Corinthians 2:14

This world thinks they can beat Him, in fact they shout that He is dead, He is asleep, He’s just an old man. Powerless, sitting in the rocking chair, but oh no, El Gibbor is still His name!

Psalms 2:1-6 (NLT) Why are the nations so angry? Why do they waste their time with futile plans? The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together against the Lord and against his anointed one. “Let us break their chains,” they cry, “and free ourselves from slavery to God.” But the one who rules in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them. Then in anger he rebukes them, terrifying them with his fierce fury. For the Lord declares, “I have placed my chosen king on the throne in Jerusalem, on my holy mountain.”

We See the Awesome Power of El Gibbor in Revelations, where God reveals the Final Chapter:

John Jesus Coming Warrior KingThe Apostle John knew Jesus as his Loving Savior, but when He saw Jesus as the Coming Judge, the Coming King, the Coming Warrior, John fell at His feet as though dead. God is indeed EL GIBBOR, our mighty warrior, and we need to fall at His feet daily and confess our need for Him to Fight the battles that we face.We need to make sure our enlistment papers are in order, that our service record is clean , and our duty roster has been performed. He is the Mighty Warrior, and we want to be on His Winning side.

  • Revelation 16:14 (NLT) They are demonic spirits who work miracles and go out to all the rulers of the world to gather them for battle against the Lord on that great judgment day of God the Almighty.
  • Revelation 16:16 (NKJV) And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon.
  • Revelation 16:21 (NKJV) And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great.
  • Revelation 19:11-21 (NKJV) Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.” And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.

Isn’t it encouraging to know how the story ends? Sometimes we get so down because of the struggles we are facing that the power of God seems as a fable. But let’s see what the Lord wants us to grab hold of. Travel back with me to a day almost 3400 years ago. A War is being waged, a war of Righteousness, a GOD WAR that will determine the homeland for God’s Chosen people, the Jews. Joshua and his men have made a league with the Gibeonites, a league which obligates them to defend them if the need arises. Joshua 10 finds the Need Arising, and arising suddenly.

The Canaanite Strategy

Five Kings War on GibeonNow it came to pass when Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem heard how Joshua had taken Ai and had utterly destroyed it–as he had done to Jericho and its king, so he had done to Ai and its king–and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were among them, that they feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were mighty. (GIBBORIM) Joshua 10:1-2 (NKJV)

The men of Gibeon, who were great warriors (gibboriym), knew that YHWH was Israel’s shield and defender. The Gibeonites called upon the name of the Lord, and sent word to Joshua. The King of Jerusalem despised what the Gibeonites had done. This peace treaty was a sign of weakness to the Canaanites, and if not punished, would encourage other people to capitulate to the Jewish forces. So the King of Jerusalem Adoni Zedek, decided to act. This alliance could not be tolerated.

Gibeons Plead for HelpThe Gibeonites were known as the Gibborim, Mighty warriors. Their treaty by deception was a sign that the Jews were superior in force. Adoni Zedek, the king of Jerusalem reasoned that the best way to defeat Israel was to attack Gibeon. This would put Israel and YHWH to the test. Would Israel fight to defend its new ally when the Israelites themselves had wanted to kill the Gibeonites because of their act of deception? Would YHWH actually fight for a Hivite tribe like the Gibeonites, who were destined for destruction? Such an attack by the five kings would also make Gibeon an example to all those other Canaanite tribes and cities who may have been considering defecting to the Israeli cause. It was a WIN WIN decision.

So, we read in verses 3-5, “Therefore Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem sent to Hoham king of Hebron, Piram king of Jarmuth, Japhia king of Lachish, and Debir king of Eglon, saying, “Come up to me and help me, that we may attack Gibeon, for it has made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel.” Therefore the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon, gathered together and went up, they and all their armies, and camped before Gibeon and made war against it.”

The coalition of five Amorite tribes now begins to take shape as Adoni-zedek, recruits Amorite soldiers from four other city/tribes. These five kings will form an alliance and together attack the Gibeonites. A combined Canaanite army soon marched on Gibeon and surrounded the city, laying siege.

God Wants to Show His Power

Joshua to the RescueLittle did Adoni-Zedek know he was doing exactly as God wanted. This would work for quick victory for Joshua and his men. Instead of having to attack five separate cities at five separate times, God got the five kings to assemble together out in the open, where they were easy prey for Joshua’s men. That Adoni-zedek’s plan put the new Israeli-Gibeonite peace treaty to the test becomes clear in verse 6.

And the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua at the camp at Gilgal, saying, “Do not forsake your servants; come up to us quickly, save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites who dwell in the mountains have gathered together against us.”” Joshua 10:6 (NKJV)

When Joshua entered into a treaty with Gibeon, the Israelites pledged to defend Gibeon, even as the Gibeonites pledged their loyalty to YHWH and his covenant mediator, Joshua. When the Amorite coalition moves against Gibeon, the Gibeonites invoke their treaty with Israel with great urgency–the phrase “don’t forsake your servants” really means something like “please don’t abandon us!” In effect, the message to Israel from Gibeon was hhhheeeellllpppp!

Joshua Responds

Joshua  knew he had to honor his word, but before he left, he checked in with the Captain. The Captain of the Host said: Don’t hesitate Joshua, for I have already won this battle. They are as good as dead.”

So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you.” Joshua therefore came upon them suddenly, having marched all night from Gilgal. Joshua 10:7-9 (NKJV)

So Joshua assembled the warriors, and his mighty men of Valor, and went on a forced all-night march up the foothills to Gibeon. It was 25 miles, it was uphill from the plains of Gilgal, but the army made it before dawn and was able to come upon the forces in a surprise attack.

Joshua traveled all night from Gilgal and took the Amorite armies by surprise. The Lord threw them into a panic, and the Israelites slaughtered great numbers of them at Gibeon. Then the Israelites chased the enemy along the road to Beth-horon, killing them all along the way to Azekah and Makkedah. Joshua 10:9-10 (NLT)

Joshua Pursues Five KingsWhen we read that “the Lord threw them” (the five Amorite kings), “into a panic,” we should notice that this has a two-fold reference. The first thing indicated by the passage is that the LORD was with Joshua in such a way that he blessed Joshua’s surprise attack. When the armies of Israel show up unexpectedly and in force, the Amorites obviously panicked at the sight of Joshua’s men where they had not expected them. Since the Lord works through means, this is, in part what caused the Amorite panic. Yet God gets all the credit, giving Joshua wisdom and his men strength to fight the battle after marching all night. Joshua’s men totally defeated this Amorite coalition, driving them down the important trade route (the “way of ascent”) as far as Makkedah which is another twenty miles or so. No doubt, Joshua and the soldiers of Israel fought brilliantly and bravely. The Amorite army was in full retreat. Joshua’s training of the army and his tactics are superb, but without God’s blessing this victory would not have happened. God also directly intervened, sending a powerful hailstorm which killed more Amorites than did the Israelite soldiers. The very fact that the Amorite armies fled so far so fast is indicative of the shear panic that went through the ranks. Not only did the Israelite army outmaneuver the Amorite armies catching them by complete surprise, but a sudden hailstorm killed many, as soldiers caught out in the open facing gigantic hailstones would have no place to find shelter. This time it was the Amorites who broke and ran. After this amazing victory, no one in Canaan would remember Ai. It was clear to all that God was on Israel’s side. While not yet complete, the victory was stunning. God is the LORD. He is Israel’s shield and defender and gives his people the victory.

You see, battles are a reality in the life of the child of God, but we never have to face them alone,

Heb. 13:5 “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”; In the day of battle, we have the promise of help from One Who is “an ever present help in a time of need”, Psa. 46:1.

Our lives will be filled with battles. However, these battles are not simply physical battles, neither are they battles with other people. Our battles are spiritual battles, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Eph 6:12. Therefore, our weapons must be spiritual as well. “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) ” 2 Cor 10:4.

To Find the Spiritual Truth of Joshua 10 we must Realize the Following:

Gods Peace is Ours1.God’s Peace is Ours

  • Vs 8 Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands;
  • Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands Vs 8.
  • Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you…Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27
  • I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace … take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33
  • For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:17
  • And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts… Colossians 3:15
  • For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.No matter the battle, the struggle, the testing, a child of God can experience the peace of God that surpasses human ability and understanding. 2 Timothy 1:7

Does God ever worry? Does God ever get anxious? Is ANYTHING too hard for God? Is this world too much fro God to deal with? Does He sulk in the corner of His room wringing his hands saying O NO What am I Going to DO? Peace is the confident assurance that God is in control. We have no need to fear if we believe God is in control.

Gods Promises are Ours2.God’s Promises are Ours

  • I have given them into your hands. Joshua 10:8
  • But thanks be to God, who gives us the VICTORY through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57
  • No, in all these things we are more than CONQUERORS through him who loved us. Romans 8:37
  • COUNT IT ALL JOY, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, James 1:2-3

Gods Power is Ours3. God’s Power is Ours

When El Gibbor is leading the way, He provides amazing power. Nothing is too hard for him.

1.  Super Strength

He Gives Joshua’s army strength to battle even though they have been on an uphill march all night.

Gods Power - Super Hail2.  Super Hail

  • Job 38:22-23 (ESV) “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war?
  • Revelation 16:21 (ESV) And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe.

3.  Super-Natural Power

Gods Super Power Sun Stands StillJoshua says to God in front of all Israel: Joshua 10:12 (ESV) “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”God performed the greatest act imaginable. God stopped the earth from spinning anto allow the daylight to continue 12 more hours.

a) This is the language of observation. (We all speak of the sunrise and the sunset. We do not use technical, scientific language to describe the things we observe all around us.) Very literally, the sun hung at the zenith of the sky for about a whole day!

b) Ancient history supports this claim. (The Chinese, the Babylonians, The Incas, the Aztecs, the Egyptians, the Assyrians, and other ancient cultures all record the existence of a long day, which occurred about this time.)

c) The calendar supports it. Using an ancient Chaldean calendar system, which was built around lunar and solar eclipses, it is possible to count forward to this day and find that this day fell on Tuesday July 22. However, if we count backward, using our system of reckoning days, we will find that this event happened on July 22, a Wednesday. Is there a problem? No, just the fact that an entire day is missing either way you go. Verse 13 tells us where that missing day went!

d) Some will surely counter, “But mudpreacher, this violates all the laws of nature!” I want to remind you that there are no laws of nature! There are only the laws of God which govern nature! We need to remember Who made this world. If He can create it, then surely He can control it!)

e) The bottom line is this, God wanted these people destroyed, so He did what He could do to see they finished the job. God gave them all the daylight they needed to get the job done!

Power to Proclaim GospelWhat does this mean for you and me? If you expect God’s Power to help you work harder or golf better or play football better, drive longer, drive faster, you are going to be disappointed. God promises His power to do the Job He has appointed for you.

  • With Joshua, it was getting rid of the evil people so they could take over Canaan as God’s Inheritance.
  • With you and I, it is in providing an inheritance for His Son.

There is Super Power given to those who PROCLAIM THE GOSPEL.

  • Luke 24:49 (ESV) And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
  • Acts 1:8 (ESV) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Power to Live Victorious LifeThere is super power given to live a VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN LIFE as a witness to others.

  • Acts 4:33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.
  • 1 Corinthians 1:18  For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
  • Ephesians 3:16, 20  that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being… Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,

Power for Hope in Times of DiscouragementThere is Super Power to give you hope in times of DISCOURAGEMENT

  • Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
  • 2 Corinthians 10:4  For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.

Now there may be times when God shows his supernatural power in your life, but it will always be for the purpose of your witness and His testimony. It will never be for your own personal use or personal profit or personal boasting. God has the power to free people from drugs, from sexual bondage, from homosexuality, from anger, from bondage to sin habits. Sometimes that freedom comes in a flash, yet even on this long day, a day of amazing displays of God’s power, there were thing’s that required decisive human effort, effort that took time and human energy.

The PEACE, PROMISES AND POWER of God is Manifested in our Lives in the Following 4 Ways:

Power to Prevail1.  Power to Prevail

Joshua 10:19-20 (ESV) Pursue your enemies; attack their rear guard. Do not let them enter their cities, for the Lord your God has given them into your hand.” When Joshua and the sons of Israel had finished striking them with a great blow until they were wiped out, and when the remnant that remained of them had entered into the fortified cities,

We have to align ourselves with God in order to battle enemies and trials and temptations. These battles will require a commitment on our part to do what we must to see the victory.

  • Elisha had to lay aside everything in order to follow after Elijah.
  • Peter, even with his failures, had to lay aside his selfish desires in order to feed the people.
  • Paul had to lay aside his Jewish training in order to pursue after Jesus Christ.

Joshua and his men could not content themselves with the men killed at Gibeon. They had to keep on pursuing them until they were ALL killed.

You cannot be content with going half-way for God. You must commit to going all the way, even as far as makkedo. You must cleanse your life of all the enemy, all the world. It must be a relentless pursuit for your life. Paul said I keep my body under, I buffet my body like a boxer beats his foe.

Power to Control2.  Power to Control

And it was told to Joshua, “The five kings have been found, hidden in the cave at Makkedah.” And Joshua said, “Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave and set men by it to guard them,Joshua 10:17-18 (ESV)

Learn to Control the Enemy

In order to be mighty men and women of God, we must have hearts that are in love with God. Our hearts must be given to God. Our hearts must be undivided in our devotiuon to God. Satan and this world wants to steal your hearts affections. It wants to divide your hearts love. We must capture every imagination of our heart that exalts itself against God. We must set sentries at the door of our heart to keep the enemies at bay.

  • Guard the Heart for Out of it are the Issues of Life
  • Picture Your Heart as a Living Thinking Organ with Various Gates and Chambers
  • Each Gate Must Have a Guard Watching It.
  • The Sentries are the Powerful, Living Rhemas of God.
  • If you have heart guards of precise Scriptures standing at the doors of your heart, you will be able to take captive every thought and temptation.
    • Jesus Demonstrated This.
  • Before Nehemiah rebuilt the walls, the enemies came and plundered the people at will.
  • When Nehemiah began his Rebuilding Program there was Much Opposition
  • Nothing Stopped him from Securing the City and Placing Guards at the Gates.
  • Scriptures Guard Your HeartYou Should Memorize Scriptures in Order to Challenge and Reject Every Wrong Thought that Approaches Your Heart.

Guard your Heart with the Word

Unlocked Gate Destroys HeartIf you fail to guard the gates of your heart…The Tragedy of the Un-Locked Gate of Constantinople…

The Turkish frontal assaults on the walls were all repulsed with heavy casualties and the Turkish attempts to undermine the walls were all countered and abandoned. Mehmed’s offer to lift the siege, if he was given the city, was rejected. On 22 May, the moon rose in eclipse prophesying the fall of the city and a few days later Constantine received news that no Venetian relief fleet was coming. After midnight of the 29, the Ottoman army attacked the walls. The first wave of irregulars was thrown back. The second Turkish wave of Anatolians managed to breach the Blachernae section of walls. The defenders pushed back the Anatolians and managed to hold out against the Sultan’s elite Janissaries. During the fighting, the Genoese commander, Giovanni Giustiniani was fatally wounded and retreated to his ships with his men. The Emperor and his men continued to hold off the Turks until the Turks discovered an unlocked gate upon which they flooded into the city. Constantine reportedly fell leading a charge against the invaders, though his body was never found. The last defenders were subdued and the Turks proceeded to loot the city.

This battle marked the end of the Byzantine Empire, an empire which had lasted for over 1,100 years. The city’s fall was a massive blow for Christendom. Pope Nicholas V ordered an immediate counter-attack, but his death soon after marked the end of the plan. Mehmed made Constantinople his capital and proceeded to conquer the last two Byzantine states, the Despotate of Morea and the Empire of Trebizond. Many Greeks fled the city and migrated to other parts of Europe, in particular Italy. This move is thought to have helped fuel the Renaissance. The Fall of Constantinople is seen by some scholars as being a key event in leading to the end of the Middle Ages, and some mark the end of the Middle Ages by this event.

Power to Confront3.  Power to Confront

Then Joshua said, “Open the mouth of the cave and bring those five kings out to me from the cave.” And they did so, and brought those five kings out to him from the cave, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon. And when they brought those kings out to Joshua, Joshua summoned all the men of Israel and said to the chiefs of the men of war who had gone with him, “Come near; put your feet on the necks of these kings.” Then they came near and put their feet on their necks. And Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid or dismayed; be strong and courageous. For thus the Lord will do to all your enemies against whom you fight.” Joshua 10:22-25 (ESV)

God Gives Us The Power To Confront Our Enemies

Notice that after the battle had been won, Joshua came back to that cave and brought these kings out and humiliated them by having his princes place their feet upon their necks. He confronted them openly and publicly pronounced the victory over them.

Every person in this room knows what kings hide in your life. You know about your secret sins and those problems you have with the flesh. The only way for you to get absolute, permanent victory over these things is for you to confront them. I mean, you need to drag them out of their hiding place and lay them out before the Lord, place your foot on their necks in the name of Jesus and proclaim the victory over them this morning! You will never prosper as a child of God until your sins are handled God’s way, Pro. 28:13, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”)

Four ministers were admitting their secrets sins one day.
1st – battled lustful thoughts and desires
2nd – struggled with gambling
3rd – had a secret addiction to alcohol
4th – could hardly wait to leave. His sin was gossip.
We may laugh at the story but the problem of “secret” sins is no joke. The great preacher Charles Spurgeon once said, “Of all sinners the man who makes a profession of religion and yet lives in iniquity is the most miserable.”

Power to Conquer4.  Power to Conquer

Joshua 10:26-28 (ESV) And afterward Joshua struck them and put them to death, and he hanged them on five trees. And they hung on the trees until evening. But at the time of the going down of the sun, Joshua commanded, and they took them down from the trees and threw them into the cave where they had hidden themselves, and they set large stones against the mouth of the cave, which remain to this very day. As for Makkedah, Joshua captured it on that day and struck it, and its king, with the edge of the sword. He devoted to destruction every person in it; he left none remaining. And he did to the king of Makkedah just as he had done to the king of Jericho.

Reckon Your Enemies as Dead

  • Romans 6:11 (KJV) Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Willing to Trust GodNote Paul’s attitude toward life, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Gal 2:20

It all boils down to who’s will has the priority in your life: your’s or God’s. Which is it for you? How does one do this? “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” 2 Cor 10:5

Eventually, the battles of life will be over, the long day will be finished and we who are saved will go home to Heaven to rest in that glorious place. In the meantime, however, there are enemies and there are battles that must be fought. We can either fight them with our own weapons and LOSE, or we can fight them the way the Lord has shown us and WIN. Which would you rather have: defeat or victory?

I don’t know what you are fighting today, but I know Who can help you with that battle. Bring that thing to Jesus and let Him get you safely through the fight.


20/20 ran a segment on the happiest people on this planet. Not surprising was that America did not top the list. Happy DaneDenmark had the happiest people, in spite of high taxes. Something about all of them (97%) being similar, and not minding giving taxes when they go to someone like you. Plus they all have excellent health care and there are no major inequities in wages. (Because of taxes a restaurant worker makes as much as a doctor? – I found that one hard to swallow).

I thought the comment about taxes fascinating with the controversy swirling about illegal immigrants. Is that the source of our unhappiness in America-our taxes going to illegal immigrants?

The other country presented as high in happiness was Singapore. What is surprising about Singapore is the harsh treatment of criminals and the rigid enforcement of rules and laws-especially for cleanliness and theft etc. Singapore has become a very orderly and safe society. Therefore the people are happy.

Both of the countries mentioned have incorporated principles found in something God told Isaiah in chapter 61:1-8. In fact, when Jesus began His earthly ministry, he read verses one and two in the synagogue. For Jesus had come to begin His Kingdom reign. His kingdom was rejected as a political one, so it began in peoples hearts. In fact, Jesus told Pilate that His Kingdom is not of this world. But Jesus laid forth the foundational laws of His kingdom in Matthew 5-7. Here in Isaiah 61 we see the foundational principles of God’s HAPPINESS in the future earthly Kingdom:

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion– to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified. They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. Strangers shall stand and tend your flocks; foreigners shall be your plowmen and vinedressers; but you shall be called the priests of the LORD; they shall speak of you as the ministers of our God; you shall eat the wealth of the nations, and in their glory you shall boast. Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy. For I the LORD love justice; I hate robbery and wrong; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.(Isa 61:1-8)

In the future Kingdom there shall be everlasting joy. This is because:

    1. There is commonality of purpose-we shall all be called priests of the Lord.
    2. God’s Justice is in place. It is not about what is fair-it is about what is JUST! God’s law will be enforced.
    3. There is recompense for evil and wrong doing. It is not selective (a rich man’s justice). It is UNIVERSAL.
    4. There is universal care-all will be clothed with the garments of praise.

America is struggling under tremendous burdens of inequity and injustice. Our legal system has become a plaything of the wealthy and the privileged. Health care is not JUST (based on righteousness) but controlled by the insurance companies. Our system of education, government aide, government handouts are not according to a consistent JUST (Righteous) plan but is full of inequities and favors available only to the rich and privileged.

The recent downturn in consumer spending is just the push our nation needs to go into recession. Perhaps when the middle class begins to cry out under the onerous load of debt and inequality will there be a revival in our nation whereby God’s Justice and Righteousness is invoked.