Tag: bible

A Statement on the Historical overturning of Roe v. Wade

A statement from the Elders of Grace Life Church:

There are moments throughout history that have long been forgotten and there are moments that will be remembered in history books. On June 24th, one of those historical moments occurred when the Supreme Court overruled Roe vs. Wade with a 6-3 vote. 

Six weeks ago, a SCOTUS opinion was leaked of this incredible possibility. The document showed the Supreme Court had voted to strike down the landmark decision. And this past week, they in fact did! To God be the glory!

Justice Alito writes in the document, “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

Roe v. Wade is the name of the lawsuit that led to the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision establishing a constitutional right to abortion in the United States. The majority opinion found an absolute right to abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy.

For close to 50 years, abortion has been a legal option for unwanted pregnancies and has resulted in the deaths of approximately 63 million unborn babies. While Roe v. Wade stated abortion is a justifiable course of action, God’s Word deems otherwise. Abortion is a heinous and sinful act of murder; it is the taking of an innocent life created in the image of God. And thanks to this most recent ruling, abortion is no longer considered a constitutional right. In fact, to call it a right to begin with is in complete contrast to the teaching of God’s Word.

In 1973, the issue of abortion was taken out of the hands of the people. Now, it returns to our hands so we can continue to speak against abortion at the voting booth. The striking down of Roe is something we have prayed for and worked towards for many years. And frankly, it’s something many of us never thought we would see in our lifetime. We praise God that we were witnesses to this historical moment. 

The Word of God has much to say about life. 

Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Psalm 139:13-14 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

These verses reveal to us that life begins at conception and that every life is intricately knitted together by creator God in the mother’s womb. This is why every Bible-believing Christ follower should stand for life. All human beings are made in God’s image, and God is not pleased with the killing of humans and the destruction of that image.

Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Genesis 9:6 Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.

We must be careful that we do not see this ruling primarily as a political victory, nor that we miss the opportunity to speak into the lives of those around us. We may know people expressing a feeling of hopelessness in this situation, and what an opportunity to speak the true hope of Jesus into this discourse. Because our hope is not based on a law, or a government, or an elected official, but on the person of Jesus Christ Himself and He alone.  So let us encourage you to respond in the following ways:

1. Pray. Pray for our country. Pray for our world.  Pray for our leaders, from local and state authorities all the way to our national and even international leaders. We know that God establishes all authority.

Romans 13:1-5 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.

2. Take care of the widows and orphans. In our local context, we support First Coast Women’s Services and some of you are or have served there. We can get you connected with them to be involved directly, or you can give to our Special Offering Fund to support them financially.

Exodus 22:22 You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child.

James 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

3. Share the Gospel. It’s not our job to convince people to take on our entire set of beliefs nor to expect them to act like Jesus if they don’t know Jesus to begin with. Let us not get caught up in arguments and instead tell people how Jesus has changed your life and reveal everyone’s need for salvation from sin.

Our Scripture verse for the next few weeks is Isaiah 6:5, which says

“And I said: ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; 
for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; 
for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts’!”

Let us not forget what it was like to be lost, and to see the weight of our own sin but also the freedom we have in Christ from being bound to it, and let that speak into our dealings with the world.


4. Show Christlike compassion. We pray that our response will be Christlike in approach, boldly standing in the face of this depraved act while also sitting with those reeling from a decision they may regret. We extend grace, patience, and love, just like the Savior has extended grace, patience, and love to us.

 

Let’s take a moment to pray today for our country and to celebrate the providence of God and the end of Roe vs. Wade. 

By His Grace,

Your Elders; Pastor Matt and Pastor Ben

Why We Have a Preaching Team at Grace Life

I can remember my first sermon clearly. I was taking a speech class my senior year of high school and since I already knew I would be going to seminary once I graduated, I decided to turn my speech into a sermon. The sermon was a short gospel presentation from Matthew 7:13-14.

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

I remember being extremely nervous and wanting to back out at the last minute. I remember seeing my mom and my youth pastor watching from the pews. I remember my blue shirt and red tie that was poorly tied. I remember this nervous tick my foot would do and wondering during the sermon why my foot was doing that and how I could possibly be thinking about that while I was preaching! Funny thing is, my foot still does it every once in a while.

I can’t remember the sermon points and no great revival was launched from that chapel sermon, but I do remember clearly thinking that this was something I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing: preaching the gospel to people who needed to hear it. 

This is what I’ve committed my life to doing as the Pastor of Grace Life. God has called me to deliver His Word to His people and to disciple and develop leaders for God’s glory. Part of doing this is training, equipping, and providing opportunities for other men to preach God’s Word to God’s people. This is why developing Biblical preachers within a local church is important to the doctrinal health of a local church. 

Over the summer, you will hear God’s Word preached from men within our church as they share with you the eternal truths found in Hebrews 11. These men are faithful men who love our church and support the gospel work within our church. They have studied diligently in preparation for their sermon, and I know they will be a blessing to you. They are to me. 

Here is why we have a preaching team at Grace Life Church. 

A preaching team serves as a reminder of the church’s need for God’s Word, not one communicator.

The pulpit I stand behind each Sunday to preach God’s Word is not my pulpit; it belongs to Jesus Christ, the Perfect One who died for His bride, the church. The Book I preach from is not my book; it’s the Holy Spirit Inspired Word of God that makes us wise to salvation and equipped to do every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). And it is my belief that the most important component within a church is the preaching of God’s Word. Having more men capable of preaching God’s Word is a benefit to the health of the church.

Pastor Steve Lawson wrote this in the forward to his book on John Calvin.

“As the pulpit goes, so goes the church. In this hour, pastors must see their pulpits again marked by sequential exposition, doctrinal clarity, and a sense of gravity regarding eternal matters. This, in my estimation, is the need of the hour.”

The church doesn’t need a dynamic communicator, it needs the preaching of God’s Word. Charles Spurgeon says this:

​​“My brethren, if we are to see the church of God really restored to her pristine glory, we must have back this plain, simple, gospel-preaching. I do believe that the hiding of the cross beneath the veil of fine language and learned dissertation is half the cause of the spiritual destitution of our country. Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. He came to seek and to save that which was lost. I would sooner say these few words and then cease my testimony, than utter the most splendid oration that ever streamed from the lips of Demosthenes or of Cicero, but not have declared the gospel of Christ. We must keep to this. This must be the hammer that we bring down upon the anvil of the human heart again, and again, and again. God forbid that we should glory save in the cross of Jesus Christ our Lord! God forbid that we should know anything among men save Jesus Christ and him crucified!”

A preaching team provides an opportunity to develop Gospel-centered, Biblically-driven preachers.

The development of Gospel-centered, Biblically driven preachers keeps the focus on God’s Word and not man. But there must be a space for these men to learn, grow, and actually preach to the church. It is difficult to become a gospel preacher within the church if you have no opportunities to preach to the church.

Preaching is not easy. Writing a sermon and preparing to preach it is very similar to writing a term paper. Several hours of research, writing, reading, and studying goes into the final manuscript that will be delivered to the saints on Sunday. This is after years of working to study better and after having several years of seminary training. 

For the men who will be preaching over the summer, they have had several months to work on their text of Scripture. They are doing their prep work in their free time while learning the ins and outs of deep study of the Bible and then putting the pieces together to form a sermon. They’re thinking about illustrations, applications, and transitions, and they’re wrestling with the final outline that will be heard on Sunday, all without the years of training that most preachers have. 

This process takes practice and patience. It takes encouragement and critique. It takes grace and prayer. It takes Holy Spirit strength to stand before the church and deliver the Word of God to the church under the weight of knowing their words will be judged one day. And when they preach God’s Word to us, we respond with joy for the preaching of God’s Word and encourage them and thank them for preaching to us.

A preaching team provides necessary rest for the main preacher

I think about the sermon text from Sunday night until I deliver it the next Sunday. It is not uncommon for me to spend 10-20 hours working on a sermon every week while also keeping up with pastoral responsibilities. Early on as a preacher, I didn’t realize the mental strain writing a sermon would bring, and there are seasons I find myself needing to be preached to instead of being the one preaching.

Having a preaching team helps me rest physically, mentally, and spiritually. I hate not preaching, but I’m a better preacher when I have weeks off on the sermon calendar. The Sundays I don’t preach allow me to take a vacation with my family and be fully present with them (instead of trying to outline the sermon in my head or on my phone.) The Sundays I don’t preach allow me to prepare for future sermon series and handle other pastoral responsibilities. The Sundays I don’t preach frees me to sit and listen to the preaching of God’s Word.

Having faithful men step in now to preach to our church allows me to rest and prepare. It makes me a stronger preacher. It makes me stop and breathe. It makes me look at God’s Word not for sermon prep, but for the much needed spiritual nourishment for my soul.

A preaching team aides in the planting, replanting, and revitalization of more gospel focused churches in our community

We want to plant more churches in our community and serve churches who are on the verge of closing their doors and one of the necessary components to these causes is having faithful men who can teach others also (2 Timothy 2:2). I believe that the Lord will raise up men within our churches to one day pastor church plants or serve as a guest preacher in a church with no pastor. Preaching has a Kingdom impact not just within our church, but in other churches as well. Having a preaching team opens up opportunities for us to make more disciples who make disciples. 

I am thankful for the men who will be preaching over the summer. When they preach, encourage them. Tell them how the Lord used their sermon to speak to you. Show up and listen to them, because they are heralds of God’s message. The text they will preach from is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

By His Grace,

Pastor Matt

Resources for Fighting Sexual Sin

We concluded our Ten Commandments Sermon Series this past Sunday by looking at the Seventh Commandment. Typically, we would preach on the Seventh Commandment after the sixth, but Covid disrupted the sermon calendar, leading to the last sermon of the series being on the Seventh Commandment. If you haven’t had a moment to listen to the sermon, listen to it here.

Because of the depraved view of sexuality that is running rampant throughout our culture, it is important that we as Christians take every measure to fight against the sin of sexual lust. Jesus commands us to do whatever it takes to rid our hands and eyes of this disastrous sin (Matthew 5:27-30). As we all seek to pursue Christlikeness in all things, I want to provide as many resources as I can to help you in your walk with the Lord, both personally and parentally. 

 

PERSONAL RESOURCES

There are two gracious gifts the Lord has given us to fight sin that rightfully take place at the top of this list: the Scriptures and the Church.

Within the Scriptures, we see the depravity of our own hearts (Jeremiah 17:9-10). We see countless calls to abandon sexual immorality and to flee youthful passions (1 Corinthians 6:18-20; Colossians 3:1-5). We see the importance of confessing our sins, not just to the Lord, but to each other for the purpose of help and restoration (1 John 1:9; James 5:16; Galatians 6:1-10). The Scriptures and the Church are a reminder to us that God is committed to our holiness. His will for us is our sanctification!

Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. – 1 Thessalonians 4:1–8

The Scriptures remind us, and the church should as well, that we are no longer condemned because we are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1-2). To pursue holiness is to eradicate sexual sin from our lives. If you are fighting sexual sin, fight it with the truth and power of Scripture alongside brothers and sisters in Christ who deeply care for your soul (Ephesians 6:10-20).

Here are additional resources to help you in your fight against sexual sin.

ANTHEM a strategic acronym by John Piper

Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace by Heath Lambert

Pornography: Fighting for Purity – a 31 Day Devotional by Deepak Reju

Sexual Sanity for Women: Healing from Sexual and Relational Brokenness by Ellen Dykas

Sexual Detox: A Guide for Guys who are Sick of Porn by Tim Challies

Covenant Eyes – Screen Accountability

 

RESOURCES FOR PARENTS

Parenting in a sexually-hyper culture is not for the faint of heart. Boys and girls are introduced to some form of pornography between the ages of 5 and 10. From a Christian perspective, the goal is not just to prevent porn exposure, but rather to teach God’s design for sex, establish clear and open communication, and acknowledge the dangers.

There is a difference between not allowing access to YouTube, social media, or even iPhones or iPads and teaching them God’s design for sex. Instead of a mindset of preventing porn exposure, we need to have a mindset of preparing for porn exposure. This provides action steps when your child is “accidentally” exposed to pornographic material (whether explicit or inexplicit such as provocative television commercials) or their eyes begin wandering at the pool or beach. Yes, we prevent, but we also prepare.

We prepare them for porn exposure by teaching them the truths of Scripture and the importance of accountability. If you notice, we take the same first measures in our parenting as we do in our personal fight against sexual sin.

Scripture teaches our children God’s design.  – Our children need to know that sex is God’s design between a married man his wife for life. We are proclaiming God’s design for marriage, sex, and gender because it is God’s design that is actively being attacked in our culture. We fight the lies of Satan with the truth of God. Any conversation concerning sex should be grounded in Scripture and celebrated as a gift from the Lord for a husband and wife.

Open communication leads to intentional accountability – Talking to your children about sex in an age appropriate manner makes you the expert on the topic. They hear it from you first before they hear it on the playground or in a video game chat. Most importantly, they hear the truth behind sex found in God’s Word. Regardless of the topic, teaching the truth of God’s Word to our children before they hear the lies of the world will serve them well.

Take the time to open the Bible and candidly talk to your children about God’s design for sex and their bodies. Here are a few additional resources that will help you in this conversation:

The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality by Luke Gilkerson

God Made All of Me: A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb

Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr.: A Simple Plan to Protect Young Minds by Kristen Jenson (Ages 3-6)

Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids by Kristen Jenson

Raising Teens in a Hyper-sexualized World by Eliza Huie

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES ON GENDER AND SEXUALITY

God and the Transgender Debate by Andrew Walker

Good God, Gay Girl by Jackie Hill Perry

Transgender by Vaughan Roberts

What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? by Kevin DeYoung

 

I pray these resources will aid you in your fight against sexual sin, but more importantly, I pray your heart will find joy and satisfaction as you behold the beauty of the Savior. Please contact me or another Elder if you need counsel in fighting sin. Let’s pursue holiness with a pure heart.

By His Grace,

Pastor Matt

Making Jesus-Centered Disciples For God's Glory


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