Distinctly Different

Distinctly Different: Study of 1 John #08

1 JohnThis is an exposition of 1 John 3:11-18. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, November 29, 2015.


I remember as a kid going to the old Tulsa Oilers hockey games.  I remember coming through the doors of the Assembly Center and hearing that man’s voice ring out, “Program get your lucky number program!  You can’t tell the players without a program.  Get your programs.”  All those guys down there on the ice were wearing the same uniform – you needed something to distinguish the players.  Something that would help you know who was who.  It may be time to start selling “lucky number programs!”  According to a Barna Research Study – you’re going to need something to help you distinguish between believer and non-believer.

10 years ago Barna surveyed of 1024 adults concerning 7 subjects asking if the behavior was morally acceptable.  The results are, to say the least, surprising.  Cohabitating – living with someone to whom you are not married – 60% of all adults said that was morally acceptable.  49% of those claiming to be “born again” saw no problem with it.  When asked about engaging in sexual fantasies 59% of all adults found it acceptable – and 49% of the born again crowd.  Abortion – 45% and 33%.  Pornography was acceptable to 33% of all adults while only 28% of born again folks thought it was okay.  The use of profanity was acceptable to 36% of the general population and 29% of the born again.  Getting drunk?  35% and 24%.  Having sexual relations with a person of the same gender – 30% of the adult population and 20% of the born again folks.  What would have been unthinkable just a few years ago – is commonplace now.  Light and darkness have merged to form dusk while black and white have become gray!

This kind of thing would be unthinkable to the biblical writers.  The people of God have been called to live holy lives; lives that are distinct from the culture around them.  Dietary laws and laws about fabric and the Sabbath were intended to show that the Old Testament saints were a peculiar people.  They were different.  They saw life differently.  They lived differently.  In the New Testament, Jesus said his followers were to be salt and light.  The church is to function as a preservative, slowing the rate of decay in society; and a lamp, lighting the way to a better world.  Repeatedly the people are God are called to “come out from among them and be separate.”  Not separate in a “holier than thou” manner but in that we are to live according to a higher standard; a different moral code.  Perhaps nowhere is this distinction any clear than in the writings of John.

We return this morning to our survey of the letter known as 1 John.  This morning we will consider the application of the social test found in 1 John 1 John 3 beginning at 1 John 3:11.

Text: 1 John 3:11-18

Thesis: The life of a genuine child of God stands in stark contrast to the life of the unbeliever.

One thing is certain in 1 John – faith in Christ demands more than just doctrinal orthodoxy.  It is more than signing off on a set of propositional truths.  Genuine faith produces a certain lifestyle.  What you believe is lived out.  It is to be put into practice.  What you believe ought to make a real difference in how you live.

In 3:11 John states his point directly.  “For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.”  John is saying that the ethic of love is fundamental to the faith.  It is no accident that 3:11 is stated in the same fashion as 1:5.  As fundamental as purity and holiness undergirding the faith is the ethic of love driving all that we do.

Keep in mind – in John’s world there are two kinds of people – the people of God and the people of the world; children of light and children of darkness.  He opens with a description of the people of the world using Cain as the prototype.

  1. The unbelieving worldview is dominated by self-interest and hostility.  (3:12-13)
  2. The life transformed by the power of Christ presents a very different picture.  (3:14-18)

We are called to be a peculiar people.  We are to be different.
Not “better” but different.
We are to see the world differently.
We are to respond to the hurting and the needy – differently.

May we so live that others see Jesus in us.  May our lives stand in stark contrast to the life of the unbeliever.

God forbid that folks would need a program to distinguish the players in this game!

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Responding to Opposition

Responding to Opposition: Nehemiah #5

NehemiahThis is an exposition of Nehemiah 4:1-9. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, November 22, 2015.


We have been given a great opportunity.  we have been given a chance to be a part of what God is doing in our world.  I can think of no greater privilege than that!  Think of it, the eternal Lord of glory has invited us to take part in the greatest enterprise in the history of the world – the building of His Church, the kingdom of God.  As His children, everything we do goes into building His kingdom.  Every experience we have plays a part.  I mention last time about the workers on that medieval cathedral.  When asked what he was doing the sculpture said, “I’m carving a masterpiece.  This will be the crown jewel of this building and will insure my immortality.”  The silversmith replied, “I’m finishing the grand bell for the great tower.”  The common laborer, hauling sand said, “I’m building a cathedral to the glory of God.”  That was the proper perspective.  There was a man who understood the significance of his labor.  It wasn’t about his skill or ability.  It wasn’t about the importance of his specific task.  It was that he was a part of something greater.  Something more important that his fame or credit.  He was concerned for the glory of God.

That is to be our attitude.  That is to be the heart of the church.    Oh, to be consumed with concern for God’s glory, and His glory alone.  But that is the stuff of “fanaticism.”  Well, I’m convinced we could use a few fanatics.  There’s no telling what God could do with us and through us if we were a people concerned only with His glory and the progress of His kingdom.  If we were willing to make whatever sacrifice, do whatever was needed to accomplish His will.  Of course such commitment would also bring unparalleled opposition.  Both from without and from within.

The enemy of our souls does not like to see the church advance.  So, he will do all he can to bring strife and contention to sidetrack the Church.  Criticism and opposition are the most potent enemies of the work of the Gospel.

Nehemiah and the builders faced their share of opposition when rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem.  They so sooner agreed to the project than they faced the first round of opposition and their detractors never went away!  In Nehemiah 4 we find the opposition forces growing and the criticism intensifying.  in the first 9 verses of the chapter Nehemiah provides us a model for dealing with criticism and opposition.

Text: Nehemiah 4:1-9
You remember he was 1000 miles away int he palace of Artexerxes.
Enjoying a life of luxury, power and influence.
But he was burdened for his people.
His people were in great trouble and disgraced.
4 months he mourned and prayed.
Finally the door of opportunity opened, he prayed and said to the king…
He received permission, protection and provision.
Upon arrival in Jerusalem he did “nothing” for 3 days…
Nothing that was seen.
He challenged the people and they responded – “Let us rise up and build!”
Nehemiah 3 – total participation, unity, affirmation.

That brings us to our text…

Thesis: The mature, effective builder rises above the harsh storm of criticism and opposition stronger and more determined than ever before.

Keep in mind we’ve been talking about impacting ministry.
Ministry that makes a difference.
This is not an easy path.

How do we overcome criticism and those who oppose us?
How do we emerge stronger than before?
There are three principles I want to point out in our text.

  1. You must understand that criticism and opposition are inevitable.  (4:1-3)
  2. You must respond to criticism with fervent prayer.  (4:4-5)
  3. You must remain focused on and committed to the task assigned.  (4:6-9)

Our enemy is not going away.  We must pray.  We must seek the mind and heart of our God but we must also be prepared to do battle with those who would hinder the work of God.  There comes a time to post a guard.  There comes a time to pick up a sword.

I’m convinced we live in such a time.  We must take a stand for the faith and refuse to give an inch.  It is time to take up the fight.  There are those who knowingly and unknowingly oppose the work of God.  It is time we stand with boldness, confidence and courage and build the wall.  It is time to that we commit ourselves to the building of God’s kingdom whatever the cost; refusing to allow anyone or anything to stand in our way.  It is time to pray and post a guard.  it is time to take our place on the wall and build it to the glory of God.  I am prepared to take my place, will you join me on the wall?

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The Moral Test Applied

The Moral Test Applied: 1 John #7

1 JohnThis is an exposition of 1 John 3:4-10. This message  by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, November 22, 2015.


I recognize that we live in a nonjudgmental, uncritical age.  We are to accept, without criticism or question, anything someone says or believes.  We are certainly never to judge another person’s faith or lack there of.  The new tolerance goes well beyond respecting others – it now demands acceptance of their beliefs, thoughts and actions as valid, truthful, and at least as good as if not superior to our own.  But such notions stand in stark contrast to biblical standards.  Biblically, there is right and there is wrong.  There is truth and there is error.  How often have you heard, “Well now the Bible says we are not to judge?”  The implication being that it is wrong to weigh the truthfulness or genuineness of any claim to truth or to examine any profession of faith.  Instead we are to accept, on face value, any claim to the Christian faith.  If someone claims to be a believer we are to embrace them and welcome them without regard for the genuineness of their claim.  We are to live and let live.  The problem is I cannot, for the life of me, find the “live and let live” philosophy in the Scripture!

Now don’t misunderstand me.  I’m not suggesting that we hold everyone as suspect until they pass our test.  I’m not suggesting that we hold at arms length until they pass muster according to our “holiness standard.”  But we are to test the spirits to see if they are of God or not.  We are called to examine fruit to see whether or not they exhibit the life of Christ.  Any person who claims that biblical Christianity never passes judgment has never read 1 John!

  • 1:6 – sounds like “judgment.”
  • 1:8 – judgment
  • 1:10 – judgment
  • 2:3-4 – is he judging?
  • 2:9 – judgment
  • 2:11 – that doesn’t sound tolerant
  • 2:15 – how dare he

John says he is writing so his readers can know that they know God (5:13).  He has given three test – the moral test = the test of righteousness; the social test = the test of love; the doctrinal test = the test of truth.  Now John is coming back to those tests.  In 1 John 3:4-10 he is amplifying the moral test.

Text: 1 John 3:4-10

John’s message is clear:

Thesis: A genuine work of grace produces the inevitable result – a life of righteousness.

There is a great deal of confusion in the church over this issue.  There was a great debate a few years ago over what was called “lordship salvation.”  John McArthur came under fire by some in the evangelical camp because he suggested a mere profession of faith is not adequate.  McArthur was rightly condemning the notion that it is possible to be saved; live as a “carnal Christian” and rest secure in the knowledge that you are genuinely a child of God.

Follow what I’m saying –
Commonly taught – that salvation does not require lordship
That “carnality,” love of self, is acceptable in a believer’s life (4 Spiritual Laws)
That at some future date – because of spiritual growth – you can “make Jesus Lord”

McArthur rightfully pointed out, “take up your cross…” is the call to every believer not just an elite few.  The fundamental confession of the Christian life is that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9).

It seems to me John is very clear in this little epistle – holiness is not an option for the child of God.

In our text John is walking us through a process of thought.  Let’s follow along.

  1. A Christ-less life is a life of lawlessness.  (3:4, 8)
  2. Faith in Christ produces righteousness.  (3:5-7, 9)
  3. Your lifestyle proves the genuineness of your profession.  (3:10)
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Guarding Our Liberty

Guarding Our Liberty: Colossians #9

colossiansThis is an exposition of Colossians 2:16-23. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, November 11, 2015.

Two things to consider from the passage:

  1. Faith in Christ consists in a living relationship with Christ and not a set of rules and regulations.
  2. Only a relationship with Christ enables you to live a genuinely spiritual life.

Freedom to obey the commands of Christ: that’s true Freedom.

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Demands of Impactful Ministry

Demands of Impactful Ministry: Nehemiah #4

NehemiahThis is an exposition of Nehemiah 3:1-32. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, November 8, 2015.


We live in a increasingly competitive world.   A world in which only the fit will survive.  Businesses are seeing the need to sharpen their competitive edge.  They are discovering the need to demonstrate their relevance to a skeptical and increasingly selective public.  There is no such thing as “brand loyalty” in today’s world.  If you want my business you must guarantee me the best product at the best price.  Plain and simple, I want what is best for me and nothing else really matters.  I have to admit  I don’t like that attitude but it is becoming the mindset of the culture, like it or not.

We also need to recognize that this mindset is not limited to business or consumer concerns it is also true in the church.  “Brand name” has little meaning in today’s church.  It’s not about whether you’re Baptist, Assembly, Methodist, Presbyterian or non-denominational it is about what are you offering me?  How will you serve me?  What’s in this for me?  How will your church meet my needs better than that church down the street?  Or even more basic what will I get from your church that I can’t get somewhere else?  O more basic still, “Why do I need what you’re selling?”  Gone are the days of people seeking us out because they feel pressured to be part of the church.  Gone are the days of putting up a sign and people show up.  Fewer and fewer know anything about who or what we are.  They know very little about what we believe or what we are about.

If we are going to minister to this culture we have to understand this culture.  This is not your grandmother’s community.  This is not the community I grew up in.  Things are very different.  If we are to reach this lost culture we have to think and act differently than a generation ago.  Now, I’m not saying we need to do “whatever” it takes to reach the culture.  I’m not talking about lowering the standards in order to make the faith relative to folks today.  The Word of God is relevant we do not have to “make” it relevant.  Rather we must be faithful to declare the Word of God in its entirety.  I’m not suggesting that we have to make the gospel palatable.  I am saying we have to rethink some things and be willing to do some things differently if we are to impact this culture.  That is the goal.  To impact the culture, to make a difference.  To be salt and light.  To live in a way that displays the glory of God and demonstrates the transforming power of the Gospel.

From 1000 miles away God gave him a burden.
Nehemiah, living in the king’s palace, was burden for his countrymen.
They were in great trouble and disgrace.
He wasn’t – he was doing just fine.
But he chose to suffer with his people rather than live in luxury in the king’s palace.
After 4 months of mourning, praying and grieving God opened the door of opportunity.
Nehemiah swallowed hard, prayed a quick prayer and spoke to the king.
He asked for permission to go, for protection, and for provision.
God graciously worked in the heart of the pagan king and supplied everything needed for the job.

Upon arrival Nehemiah was met by opposition.
Add to that the task was overwhelming.
After being back in the land for 100 years the walls were still down and the gates still charred.
Nehemiah found a discouraged people.
Yet he pressed on.

He challenged the people then told them of all the LORD had spoken to him and what the LORD had already done and was doing.  As a result the people said, “Let us rise up and build!”  (2:8)
That brings us to Nehemiah 3.

Text: Nehemiah 3:1-32

It was time to roll up their sleeves and get to work.
This is what the book is about – building walls and restoring the gates.
You would think, since this is what the book is about, this chapter ought to be exciting.
Well, it’s not!

In fact, if Nehemiah 3 was your daily Bible reading and you tried to read it in bed you wouldn’t make it past Nehemiah 3:3.

It is interesting that most commentators skip it.
It’s again tempting to think Paul must have skip it before he wrote, “All Scripture is profitable…”
Yet I have to believe this is important or it wouldn’t be here.
It doesn’t really help to try and outline it because it won’t outline.
When you break it into smaller pieces it makes less sense.
What’s the point?
It is a list of names – most of which I can’t pronounce.
Then there are references to various gates.

Then I thought, the answer is not in breaking it down but in backing off.  Quit looking at the details and try seeing the big picture.  That’s when I began to see three things standing out in this chapter.  I’ve come to see them as three demands of effectively making a difference.  As we look at this ancient text I want us to note three demands for making a difference in our world.

  1. Making a real difference in this community demands total participation.
  2. Making a difference in this community demands a spirit of genuine cooperation.
  3. Making a difference in this community demands proper affirmation.


We must all participate
Doing what we can for the glory of God.
Whether that is through praying and giving.
Or teaching a class.
Making phone calls.
Writing letters.
Speaking an encouraging word.
Serving a meal.
Baking a cake.
Speaking to your neighbor.

There must be a genuine spirit of cooperation
One agenda – His
Lay aside our egos
Catch a vision for something larger, greater
Submit to the will of the body

Give the proper affirmation
Seek God’s glory above all else
Celebrate the accomplishments of others

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Our Blessed Hope

Our Blessed Hope: 1 John #6

1 JohnThis is an exposition of  1 John 2:28-3:3

. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, November 8, 2015.


It used to be a mainstay in evangelical preaching.  It was a source of encouragement and strength.  It was the inspiration for poetry and song.  It permeated the conversations of believers throughout the week.  Anticipation was great.  In fact interest was so high – it spawned several new movements.  New denominations were born and older denominations were altered by fervent interest in the return of the Lord Jesus.  The dawn of the 20th century with its technological advances and increase confidence in scientific methods hastened the demise of millennial fever.  The First World War, the stock market crash, the great depression, World War 2 and the dawn of the atomic age rekindled talk of the end of this world.  Israel’s rebirth and the possibility of nuclear devastation gave new life to talk of the Second Coming.  Hal Lindsey’s book The Late Great Planet Earth and the Thief In The Night film series captured the hearts and minds of a new generation.  Prophecy Conferences still dot the landscape.  We are all familiar with the phenomenally successful Left Behind series.  Y2K played a major role in stoking the fire of a new millennial fever.  At the same time – scoffers abound.  While great numbers are fascinated by Bible Prophecy and the signs of the times – such notions are seen as delusional and dangerous by the larger society.

Bible-believing folk are being pushed to the edge of society.  Their views deemed fanatical and thus they should be silenced.  Some within the church have gone so far as to say the early disciples were mistaken.  Talk of a return is just the wishful thinking of a few misguided zealots.  Others say the problem was not with the biblical writers but their interpreters.  They say the return of Christ is a spiritual return.  He has already returned and continuous to return as men and women give their hearts to Christ and then he lives his life through them.  Others hold firm to the traditional teaching of the return of the Lord.  What are we to make of all of this?  Does it really matter?  Is there any practical benefit to this “pie in the sky” thinking?  For some answers we turn to 1 John.

Text: 1 John 2:28-3:3

Contemplation of our Lord’s glorious return is not “pie in the sky” thinking.  It is true, for many, thoughts of our Lord’s return have served as an escape valve from having to face the harsh realities of this life.  Many have used it as an excuse for not dealing with difficult moral and ethical issues.  Culture has been abandoned with the argument that it would merely be “polishing the brass on a sinking ship.”  Such thinking is patently unbiblical.    The truth of the matter is the return of the Lord is the believers blessed hope.

Thesis: Sustained and focused attention on the glorious return of the Lord Jesus inspires, encourages and motivates the true child of God.

Do you remember what John said back in 1 John 1 and 1 John 3:4?  He was writing so that their joy would be full – complete, satisfying, overflowing – not lacking.  One of the means to that end is the thought of the Lord’s soon return.  Too often our thoughts of the Second Coming are shrouded in doom and gloom but for the child of God it is glorious!  It is not something the children of God braces for but something he runs to.  The prayer of the believing heart is, “Even so, come Lord Jesus!”

As we walk through this passage I want you to note three things.

  1. The knowledge of our Lord’s return motivates righteous living.  (2:28-29)
  2. Anticipation of our Lord’s return fills the believer’s heart with wonder.  (3:1-2)
  3. The hope of our Lord’s return purifies the believer’s heart.  (3:3)

By all means in these dark, difficult and trying days look to the sky and hope and long for the return of the Lord.

For such knowledge motivates righteous living.
Such anticipation fills the heart with wonder.
Such hope purifies the heart.

Even so come Lord Jesus!

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The Superiority of the Gospel

The Superiority of the Gospel: Colossians #8

colossiansThis is an exposition of Colossians 2:8-15. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, November 4, 2015.

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Principles of Godly Leadership

Principles of Godly Leadership: Nehemiah #3

NehemiahThis is an exposition of Nehemiah 2:11-20. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, November 1, 2015.


Do you ever look at the world around us and think, “What kind of impact can I possibly have on this mess?”  Do you sometimes wonder if things have already gone too far; that we’ve crossed the line of no return?  I came across some notes I had from 20 years ago.  I had written down that I was watching television and there was a couple who had been happily married for 5 years.  One night the wife said to her husband, “I was born different.”  20 years ago that really got your attention!  She went on to explain, “I was born a man.”  The husband then explained that at first he was a “little” shocked but that he had come to understand that God had brought this wonderful “lady” into his life because he needed to expand his understanding and be more excepting.  The audience responded with tears and enthusiastic applause.  That was 20 years ago.  We know where we are now.  Bruce Jenner gets an award for courage as he “transitioned” into Caitlyn.  Just this week Glamour Magazine named Jenner 2015’s “Woman of the Year.”  One cannot help but think of Romans Nehemiah 1.  After all the discussion about exchanging the truth of God for a lie and God giving them over to depraved minds, the chapter ends with, “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”  I wonder have we gone too far?

Or consider the Planned Parenthood videos.  You have the medical director of Planned Parenthood talking about how they harvest various organs from the unborn for “reimbursement.”  There is talk of crushing the child above or below the desired organ or tissue so as not to damage.  Where is the outrage?  These atrocities read like the things done in Nazi extermination camps.  But the response is to yawn and turn over and catch the latest episode of Dancing With the Stars!  I wonder have we gone too far?

At times the task seems overwhelming but then I remember, our God is a mighty God.
God is not dead.
He’s not even sick!
Considering where we are, it would take a miracle to turn this thing around.
But of course, our God is a miracle working God.

He was cup bearer to king Artaxerxes.
Living in luxury 1000 miles away.

Yet he chose to be mistreated with the people God rather than live in luxury in the palace of the king.  For 4 months Nehemiah wept, mourned and prayed for the opportunity to return to Jerusalem.  Finally a door opened.  With courage and boldness he asked the king:

  • For permission to return to Jerusalem
  • For letters of protection
  • For all the materials needed to rebuild the walls and to restore the gates.

God granted him favor and thus he was on his way to the holy city.
That is where we pick up the story.

Text: Nehemiah 2:9-20

Every year business and professional people spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on leadership training, seminars, and books.  In recent years the church has jumped on the bandwagon.  Seminars and conferences are offered to lead church staff through the “latest” innovations on leadership.  Of course what the church is doing today is what the business community was doing yesterday!  It is sad because we’ve had at our figure tips a very effective course in leadership – it’s called the book of Nehemiah.

The first group of exiles returned in 536 BC.
It is now 444 BC – it’s been almost 100 years and the walls are still down, the gates still in ruin.
The name of God is being disgraced.
The character of God is being maligned.
Nehemiah is burdened.
He returns and in 52 days the job is done!

I think there are some lessons in leadership to be learned from this man.
Again – he’s not a super hero.
His an average man in the service of an extraordinary God.
His life serves to remind us that…

Thesis: Effective ministry, ministry that impacts the community, demands godly leadership.

Godly leadership is that which is born in the heart of God and is implemented through those who walk in obedience to commands, yielding to His Sovereignty.

As we work our way through this text I want to point out three (3) principles of godly leadership.

  1. Godly leadership prayerfully plans while awaiting the Lord’s timing.  (2:11-16)
  2. Godly leadership enthusiastically meets the challenge set before it.  (2:17-18)
  3. Godly leadership refuses to bow at the whim of the critic.  (2:19-20)

Before we close, are you an obstructionist or a constructionist?  When you have disagreement (notice I didn’t say “if” but “when”) are you constructive or destructive in what you say or do?  Are you actions motivated by love and concern for the work of God or is are you motivated by self interest?  Are you actions meant to help or to hurt?  I’m spending time here because God is at work and the enemy of our souls seeks to destroy that work.  It is critical that we, as a church, be united, committed to a common task and supportive of one another.

God has called us to an effective ministry.  One that makes a difference in this community.  To that end we must be willing to prayerful plan while awaiting the Lord’s timing; enthusiastically embrace the challenge and refuse to bow to the whim of our critics.

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Gospel Ministry

Gospel Ministry: 1 John #5

1 JohnThis is an exposition of 1 John 2:12-17. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, November 1, 2015.


A friend of mine was counseling a couple in his office.  It is part of the normal fare for a pastor to meet with a couple struggling to hold their marriage together.  The young woman was attending his church, her husband did not.  In fact he really wasn’t interested in the church or what the church had to say.  He was there because he really did love his wife.  In the course of conversation the pastor began to respond and deal with some of the problems in their marriage as he saw it.  In response to something he said, the woman burst into tears.  She could not be consoled.  The husband nervously tried to comfort her.  Then, with obvious anger, he stood to his feet and glared at the pastor.  Granted the circumstance may have distorted his view but my friend swore this guy was about 12 foot tall!  The husband slammed his fist on the desk and said, “I thought you people were supposed to make people feel good.”

I was visiting with a man one time who was recounting a recent revival meeting they had at their church.  “Boy you ought to have that preacher we had, at your church.  He was really good.  He chewed us up and spit us out.”  This guy thought real preaching was when you left a little bit mad.  Unless you got your toes stomped on and worked over a little bit you really haven’t been to preach’n.

I have received more than one cussing from a disgruntled person who came knocking on the church door and didn’t get what they wanted.  When they wanted cash and I offered food, they got mad.  When they called wanting a motel for the night and I offered a shelter, they slammed down the phone.  Some think it is the role of the church to give without question or discretion.

What is the role of the church?  What is the church to be about?  What is our assignment and how do we accomplish the task given?  If we were to survey the crowd this morning we would get a variety of answers.  The answers would reflect the heart and desires of those responding.

I’m convinced that:

Thesis: In a world of twisted morals and misaligned priorities the church must maintain a genuine Gospel ministry.

For most of us, when we think of “Gospel,” we think only of the plan of salvation.  But
Gospel Ministry is more than the Roman Road.  It is more than pleading with the lost to come to Christ.  Such pleading is essential and it must be done but the Gospel is more than that.  The Gospel is the whole counsel of God.  It relates to the whole of salvation; regeneration, sanctification and glorification.  We never “outgrow” the Gospel.  The Gospel is for the nonbeliever and the believer alike.

John the beloved apostle, in 1 John, is writing a letter of encouragement to a group of people he dearly loves.  A group who are facing extraordinary times.  Times of widespread and at time fierce persecution.  He is writing to assure them of their life in Christ and the security of that life.  Some false teachers have disrupted the fellowship.  They have taught a secret, higher knowledge.  They claim superior understanding of spiritual matters.  John says to the church – “They went out from us, and that’s good.  It’s good because it shows they were never with us to begin with.”

In 1 John 2 John deals with the question, “How do I know that I know God?”
Is assurance possible and if so how do I know?
He lays out 3 tests:

  • The moral test – am I growing in holiness?
  • The social test – am I increasing in my ability to love?
  • The doctrinal test – do I have a desire/passion for the truth?

As John has spoken directly and passionately about these things he has used some blunt language.  He says, “If you claim this…but live this…you are a liar and the truth is not in you.”  His language is forceful and direct.  The problem is that sensitive believers who struggle with their sin might misapply John’s words.  John is speaking primarily to those false teachers but, realizing the potential for misunderstanding, he interrupts his argument and speaks a word of encouragement to the faithful.

Text: 1 John 2:12-17

As we look at his parenthesis we find two keys to authentic Gospel ministry.  We discover that a well rounded Gospel ministry is a ministry of encouragement and warning.  While seeking to encourage believers to remain secure in their faith it also challenges them to maintain vigilance.

I want to focus on this two-fold aspect of Gospel ministry.

  1. Gospel ministry seeks to encourage and affirm believers in all stages of their spiritual development.  (2:12-14)
  2. Gospel ministry warns the believer of the danger of compromise and passionately pleads for a life of faithfulness.  (2:15-17)

Gospel ministry calls believers to follow Christ.  The early disciples left fishing boats and tax booths to follow him.  It is a calling to flee from error and embrace the truth.  A call to turn from unrighteousness to righteousness.

To engage in Gospel ministry is to call sinners to life in Christ.  To seek to encourage believers in every stage of their spiritual development and to warn them of the dangers of compromise and plead for a life of faithfulness.

In a world of twisted morals and misaligned priorities, God grant us to the courage to engage in a genuine Gospel Ministry.

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Living the Faith

Living the Faith: Colossians #7

colossiansThis is an exposition of Colossians 2:6-7. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, October 28, 2015.

  1. A deep-rooted faith.
  2. Continuous growth.
  3. Constantly Strengthened.
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