Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"The Very Existence of a Nation Depends Upon the Proclamation of the Gospel" - Spurgeon

From "Confidence and Concern", a sermon by C.H. Spurgeon:

"I believe that the moralities, the liberties and, perhaps, the very existence of a nation depend upon the proclamation of the Gospel in its midst! Have you not noticed that where the Gospel has been given up and various forms of infidelity have ruled, foul pollution has also boiled up from below! The very idea of morality seems to have departed from some men by whom belief in God has been rejected. The Lord save us from the general spread of this mischief! Let the sea, itself, cease to ebb and flow sooner than the Gospel fail to be preached among the sons of men! If the whole Church were to die for the defense of the Gospel, it were a cheap price to pay for the maintenance of it! I speak solemnly when I say that our main care in life should be to preserve this Gospel intact and hand it down to our descendants."

Read complete sermon here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

"Beyond Culture Wars" How Do We Reach Our Culture for Christ?

I just ran across an article by Michael Horton entitled "Beyond Culture Wars". It was published in Modern Reformation back in 1993 but I believe his observations have proven accurate over the last 15 years. It has become even more important for us to look closely at his message as we consider how we should go about reaching our world for Christ.

A challenging quote from His article:

"We have become the rock of offense rather than Christ. The irony is we have taken the offense out of the gospel--we don't preach sin and grace anymore--and have taken it over for ourselves. We're offensive for all the wrong reasons while we leave the gospel itself devoid of its power. The minorities, the feminists, the gays, and others who practice immoral lifestyles--people with whom we may not agree--will not give us a hearing at the end of the twentieth century. Not because we have preached the gospel and called them to repentance and they don't like that, but because we have framed our communication with them in terms of a war for social, political, and cultural control. Contrary to the religious leaders of his day, Jesus was the friend of sinners. Prostitutes turned from their prostitution because, as Jesus said, "He who is forgiven much loves much." The Holy Spirit will not convert a single soul through moral crusades. He will not convert a prostitute through Senate bill 242, or change the direction of the homosexual by prime-time denunciation from moralistic preachers. Yes, we are called to preach the good news and to call men and women to repentance, but that is not a political issue, that is not ultimate a moral issue, that is a gospel issue. Repentance can no more be coerced by the state than faith; both are the gracious gifts of God."

Read complete article from Modern Reformation

I just ran across Horton's book by the same title: "Beyond Culture Wars: Is America a Mission Field or Battlefield?" and look forward to reading it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Need for Sound Bible Teaching in the Capitol

Since we have been going through the Sermon on the Mount in our studies I have become more aware of how often politicians missquote, missapply, or simply miss the point of this passage of Scripture.

The Sermon on the Mount was quoted a number of times in floor sessions during our own recently completed legislative session.

In a recent speech on the economy, President Obama quoted the Sermon on the Mount:

"There is a parable at the end of the Sermon on the Mount that tells the story of two men. The first built his house on a pile of sand, and it was destroyed as soon as the storm hit. But the second is known as the wise man, for when “…the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house…it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.”

"We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand. We must build our house upon a rock. We must lay a new foundation for growth and prosperity – a foundation that will move us from an era of borrow and spend to one where we save and invest; where we consume less at home and send more exports abroad."

(Link to Transcript of President Obama's speech at Georgetown.)

The obvious point of the passage is missed:

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock..." (Matthew 7:24)

It is not surprising when the Word of God is handled this way by those serving in government. Many believers and churches today deal with this passage in a very similar manner. It just points out how great is the need for a ministry such as ours to boldly and accurately proclaim and teach the clear message of Scripture. We need men who "accurately handle the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15) and teach it to our political leaders in West Virginia and throughout our nation.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Are You Discouraged About the Legislative Session?

Naturally many are concerned about bills which did pass or disappointed in legislation which was defeated during the 2009 regular legislative session. However we should should not be surprised or discouraged as we remember that many of our leaders do not know Christ or consider God’s Word to be the authority for their lives or for their work in the capitol. This simply reflects the spiritual condition of the residents of our state. Instead of becoming discouraged regarding the political situation, this should help us renew our commitment to share Christ and proclaim the Word of God both to our leaders and to the citizens throughout our state. It is only as we see hearts changed through the gospel that we will see genuine change in our state and our nation.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Message of the Resurrection

Please pray that God will work in the hearts of political leaders in West Virginia, throughout our nation, and around the world to respond to the glorious message of the resurrection and the gospel.

Friday, April 10, 2009

"If the Church Does Not Accomplish This Task, Nothing Else Will"

A great quote from Pierre-Charles Toureille, a pastor in France who risked his life during World War II to keep Jewish people out of Nazi death camps:

"Please understand me: it is not uniquely the church's mission to save men socially, economically, politically. But above all else, it is the church that must save men's souls. If the church does not accomplish this task, nothing else will. A church that does not evangelize is useless on earth. If the Church does not go to the front, with zeal and faith, the world will die, however it might be magnificently equipped technologically, monstrously rich and developed, endowed with superior social legislation and possessed of the best possible material conditions for living comfortably--this world will die because it has no soul. Unless the world has this peace of the soul that authentic conversion and the assurance of eternal life can give, all is useless and in vain. The night comes, when no one can work. Let us work, then, without cease."

Tela Zasloff, A Rescuer's Story: Pastor Pierre-Charles Toureille in Vichy
(Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2003), 211

HT to the Founder's Ministry Blog
Indeed as we consider the needs of the world around us, let us work without cease to share the good news of the gospel.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Victorious King or Suffering Savior

In preparing for this week’s Bible study, I have been powerfully struck by the explanation by the disciples on the road to Emmaus as to why they were so downcast over the events of the crucifixion. They summed it up thus:
“But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel…” (Luke 24:21)
The irony of this comment to Jesus, the very One Who had just suffered, died, and risen again in order to redeem Israel and the rest of the world is amazing. Their problem was that they did not yet understand the reason for the Messiah’s coming and what He had to accomplish. They were looking for a conquering, victorious king, not a suffering savior. What an answer Jesus gave them:
“O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” (vs. 25-26)
I am afraid we are often tempted to make the same mistake. We may begin to think our nation can be “redeemed” through electing moral leaders, legislation, and political activism. In the midst of these activities we must remember that it is only through the Savior Who suffered, bore the wrath for our sin on the cross, and rose again, that individuals, or nations can be redeemed.

A good reminder as we finish up the 2009 regular session on Easter weekend.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Bible Study: "The Resurrection and the Word of God"

This is the last week of our regular legislative session which ends at midnight on Saturday. As a result, many of our legislators will not be home to celebrate Easter Sunday with their families. In order to help focus on this part of the gospel so central to our faith, we are presenting a study entitled The Resurrection and the Word of God from Luke 24:13-35.

From this week's study:

You may recall when The Discovery Channel aired the documentary, “The Lost Tomb of Jesus”. This allegedly “scientific” program claimed that a tomb and ten ossuaries (limestone coffins) found in Jerusalem belonged to the family of Jesus of Nazareth. Six of the coffins had inscriptions and through a “statistical study” it was determined that Jesus must have been buried there along with other members of His family. While the producers of this broadcast claimed they had no intent of attacking the Christian faith, it attempted to strike at the very heart of Christianity and the gospel message.

Consider the importance Paul places on the truth of the factual account of the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

14And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. (1 Corinthians 15:14-19)

Paul’s point is clear. If Jesus’ body was in this tomb in Jerusalem along with the rest of His family, then our faith is in vain and we are hopeless. In the same passage, Paul also identifies the resurrection as one of the central truths of the gospel message. In verses 3-4 he writes: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…” Paul goes on to describe the appearance of Jesus before eyewitnesses, many who were still alive when Paul wrote his letter to the church at Corinth. He wrote all this to remind those early believers of the essentiality of the resurrection. As we approach this Easter Sunday, we as well should consider the importance of the fact of the resurrection of Jesus to our lives and to our faith.

Read the complete study here.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Bible Study: "Seeking God's Stimulus Package"

From this week's Bible study in the Capitol:

With the downturn in the economy many companies and individuals find themselves in desperate need of resources which they hope the federal government might provide. Local and state governments, banks, mortgage firms, auto companies and others have gone to Washington seeking help in these difficult times. Whatever one may think about the stimulus package, we understand the plight of those who are going to the only source they know who might have the resources to help.

As we have studied the Sermon on the Mount, we have found that Jesus laid out for us a standard of righteousness which we cannot attain on our own. He has described a model for living which we can never achieve by ourselves. In a sense we can say we have a debt to God which we cannot repay. However God has provided everything we need through Christ. When enduring tough times or facing difficult challenges, how comforting it is to know we have a heavenly Father who has promised to provide for the needs of His children. This is the promise we find in this week’s study.

Read more.