Tag: scripture

Why the Reformation Matters Today

This coming Monday is Halloween, ending the second largest retail season of the year, only behind the Christmas season. While many people will celebrate with candy and costumes, for Christians, today represents a significant moment in church history. On October 31st, 1517, Martin Luther, a Roman Catholic Monk, nailed his 95 theses to the door of his church. Luther wrote these words out of a deep concern with the Roman Catholic Church’s view on several issues that Luther deemed unBiblical. His efforts lead to what is now referred to as the Protestant Reformation.

I don’t want to spend this entire post recounting the historical moments that both preceded and succeeded Luther’s actions on this day. If you want to read more about Reformation Day, I’ll provide a few links at the bottom. You can also read more from this blog post.

What I want to write about is how the Reformation impacts us today. Though they were flawed men and women, the stance taken by the Reformers 500 plus years ago is a model for us today. 

We must take a stand for the Gospel.

After Luther posted his 95 theses, he knew he would have to defend his claims. So he stood before the Emperor of Rome and, knowing he may very well lose his life, stated, “Here I stand. I can do no other. So help me, God.”

What Luther was standing for was the Gospel. While the church he served under said salvation can be earned or paid for or you can pay your relatives out of purgatory,  Luther read from the Scriptures that our righteousness was like filthy rags and the only hope for salvation is through Jesus Christ. After years of hating what he was reading in the Scriptures, he fell in love with the righteousness of God. Christ died for our sins and it is his righteousness that is placed on us.

This, among other doctrinal concerns, led Luther to take a stand against the Roman Catholic’s idea of the Gospel. His influence then is an example for us today. In the midst of so many false gospels, we must take a stand for the true Gospel of Jesus Christ; that salvation comes by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The church in Luther’s day wanted to make sinners look good, but as Luther put it: “Sinners are attractive because they are loved; they are not loved because they are attractive.”

While we take a stand for the gospel, it also means we take a stand against false gospels taught by churches. Whether it’s the deceitful prosperity Gospel or a works-based gospel, we must take a stand for the Gospel. Taking a stand for the Gospel has never been popular, but if we fail to take a stand, then who will? The apostle Paul took a stand for Gospel priority by calling out those who abandoned the Gospel of Jesus:

[6] I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—[7] not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. [8] But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. [9] As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. [10] For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:6–10)

We must take a stand for the Scriptures.

Luther’s conflict with the church began when the church’s teachings collided with his understanding of the Scripture. He was a Scholar and when he realized that the church was teaching something contrary to the Word of God, he spoke up. He saw God’s Word as authoritative and should be available to all people.

God’s Word must be the authority in our lives. It’s how we learn about God, his grace, and his forgiveness through Jesus (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Holy Spirit uses Scripture to convict us daily. To limit its authority is a dangerous step towards apostasy. The church must teach and disciple believers on how to read and study the scriptures.  

We also must make sure that all we do within the church is founded on the teachings of the Bible. Our traditions, our theology, and our individual and corporate practice must be grounded in the Word of God. Luther stood up for the authority of the Scriptures during a time when the Catholic church claimed to hold all authority.

We must take a stand for God’s Glory.

It may sound odd, but the church today needs Jesus. While Luther’s church may have said “Jesus!”, everything else said other-wise. It was about the church, it was about the Pope, it was about money. It was about everything other than Jesus. Unfortunately, too many churches have become about other ideas other than Jesus.

If programs, methods, or anything else becomes more important than Jesus, then we’ve missed it. If we give over to more lights or more buildings or more “attractiveness” and set Jesus to the side, then it’s necessary to evaluate our churches. The Reformers understood that it was through Christ alone and it was for God’s glory alone. They weren’t out to make a name for themselves or for their church, they only desired to make a name for Jesus. 

Here are a few indicators that a reformation may be needed within a church:

  • If the worship is about how well done and entertaining the music is and not about who God is, then a reformation is needed.
  • If the preaching becomes about the speaker’s giftedness or focuses on relative topics and opinions and not about the teaching of God’s Word, then a reformation is needed.
  • If the church becomes inwardly focused and not focused on the spreading of the gospel to people outside the church, then a reformation is needed.

It’s never been about us; it must always be about God’s glory.

So much more could be said about the influence of the Reformers. Their impact 500 years ago should influence us to take a stand for Scripture Alone, Faith Alone, Grace Alone, Christ Alone, and to the Glory of God Alone. May we all be reformers in our churches.

Happy Reformation Day.

****

ARTICLES

What is Reformation Day? – ligonier.com

3 Things Every Christian Should Know About the Reformation. – thegospelcoalition.com

Here We Stood (a brief history of Martin Luther) – desiringgod.org

The Reformation and your Church – 9marks.org (This is a Fall Journal loaded with great articles on the reformation. Save this link and read/watch/listen to everything that is included.

DOCUMENTARIES AND PODCASTS

Luther: The Life and Legacy of the German Reformer – Watch this documentary in its entirety to discover the events God used in Martin Luther’s life that led him to rediscover the gospel of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

Luther in Real Time – It’s 1520. Martin Luther has been declared a heretic by Pope Leo X, and his books are being burned. How much longer before Luther himself is thrown into the fire?

Enter the German Reformer’s dramatic story with Luther: In Real Time. First released 500 years after the events described, this podcast allows you to walk in Martin Luther’s footsteps from his heresy charges to his famous stand for the authority of God’s Word at the Diet of Worms. Share this podcast with people of all ages so they can hear—in Luther’s own words—what Protestants are protesting and why it still matters today.

Standing Against A Modern Day Indulgence

From the Elders of Grace Life Church: This post continues a month long look into the Protestant Reformation. See the previous post on “What is the Protestant Reformation?” here. There is much we can learn from church history, mainly, the encouragement from men and women who boldly stood in the face of false teaching. One such example is provided below and written by one of our church members and LifeGroup leader, Josh Bird. 

———

On October 31, 1517, a German monk posted a challenge to debate on the doors of the Wittenberg Church. That German monk was named Martin Luther, and the challenge to debate was on his 95 theses.  Today, the posting of the 95 theses is viewed as the beginning of the Protestant reformation. It certainly wasn’t the beginning of the reformation as several reformers preceded Luther, and it wasn’t Luther’s intent to start a reformation.  

We romanticize the moment in hindsight.  We think of Luther nailing the theses to the door with every hammer blow thunderously shattering against the Catholic church.  But that was not Luther’s intent at all. In fact, Luther posting his theses was like posting on a bulletin board.  Luther did not even post the theses in German, the common language. He posted them originally in Latin, the language of the academics. Some of his students translated his theses into common German, and once the laity were able to read the theses, a spark ignited into a flame which remains unquenched today.

Luther’s intent was to have an open discussion and debate about what he felt were abuses within the church, particularly with the selling of indulgences.  The Catholic catechism defines indulgences as follows: “An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which as the minister of redemption dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints.”

Under Catholic theology, when one dies and they are a believer, they are not immediately allowed to enter Heaven. They undergo what is called Purgatory. A Protestant understanding may describe this as further sanctification from sins in purgatory until they are allowed to enter Heaven.  Indulgences were sold by the Catholic church which would allow a reduction in time one had to spend in Purgatory. Indulgences could be bought on one’s behalf, or on behalf of the dead, such as a departed relative. As John Tetzel, a prominent seller of indulgences stated, “as soon as a coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.”

In the early 1500’s, indulgences were sold to help pay for the rebuilding of St. Peter’s in Rome.  Luther felt that this practice was being abused and that the poor were being taken advantage of.  Luther stated in his theses that “they preach human folly who pretend that as soon as money in the coffer rings a soul from purgatory springs.” 

While the reformation primarily focused on issues of faith and justification, it started as an argument about indulgences.  An argument that Luther eventually seems to have won. The Catholic church outlawed the sale of indulgences in 1567, though the practice of earning indulgences is alive today.  But while the Reformers battled indulgences and buying God’s favor, today, there is a popular and prominent theology which seems to focus on the worldly. That false teaching has come to be known as the Prosperity Gospel. Prosperity theology teaches that God is predominantly concerned with a believer’s health, wealth, and prosperity is rampant. 

Prosperity theology operates on the assumption that it is God’s will to have financial blessings in this life. Oftentimes this blessing comes in the form of “sowing a seed,” via tithing to the church.  One prominent prosperity teacher stated in 2015 that “Jesus bled and died for us so that we can lay claim to the promise of financial prosperity.” He would delete the statement, but he never actually or formally retracted his statement to my knowledge.  His further writing seems to show he still believes that logic.  He would later go on to say, “He took our sins upon himself and exchanged them for His righteousness so that we could become enriched and abundantly supplied.” 

He looks to 2 Corinthians 8:9 as proof for his assertion which says,

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” But if you read that verse within the context of the entire chapter, it’s easy to see where he gets it wrong. 2 Corinthians 8:1-3 says “we want you to know brothers about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify and beyond their means of their own accord.” (Emphasis added). 

When we look at the entirety of the chapter, it has nothing to do with obtaining worldly wealth, but a wealth of joy at the great news of Jesus Christ. Out of this joy, the Macedonians gave to continue spreading the word of God and help fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who were in need.  

In his book “Your Best Life Now,” Joel Osteen also argues that “God wants us to constantly be increasing, to be rising to new heights. He wants to increase you in His wisdom and help you to make better decisions. God Wants to increase you financially, by giving you promotions, fresh ideas, and creativity.” He then goes on to argue that “you must conceive it in your heart and mind before you can receive it. In other words, you must make room for increase in your own thinking, then God will bring those to pass. Until you learn how to enlarge your vision, seeing the future through your eyes of faith, your own wrong thinking will prevent good things from happening in your life.”

Joel Osteen starts out on bad footing.  First, he creates a vision in which a Christian is supposed to be constantly seeking after things of this world, financial gain, promotions, etc. Consider Paul’s words in Philippians 4:12-13, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Contrasted with the constantly seeking more version of Christianity from Joel Osteen, Paul talks of having as much contentment in prison as when he had abundance. Paul can do this because he has Christ.

The next thing to notice about Osteen’s premise, is it’s works-oriented. Notice that we are not responding to God, but it is God who is responding to us.  God will not bless us, we are told, until we have enlarged our vision, increased our thinking, and then God will respond by blessing us with good things in our life. Ignoring that prosperity theology has us focus on the wrong thing, financial and worldly position, it also ignores that we can do no good work but by God acting through us. We can produce no fruit unless we abide in Jesus Christ, the True Vine (John 15:4).  

While our fight may no longer be against indulgences, we fight against the false teachings of the Prosperity Gospel by standing on the right teachings of Scripture. We proclaim the spiritual and eternal “riches of God’s mercy” (Ephesians 2:4-10; Romans 11:33-36) and we trust that the Lord sovereignly cares for us in the abundance and in the little (Matthew 6:25-34; 2 Corinthians 12:9) and our earthly possessions in no way communicate the strength of our faith. We are recipients of saving grace and we testify to the world that the undeserved grace of the forgiveness of sins is far greater than any earthly wealth or prosperity.

As we come up on the anniversary of the Reformation. It is important to remember that we must always be reforming. We do this by remembering the five Solas of the reformation: Sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”), Sola Fide (“Faith alone”), Sola Gratia (“Grace alone”), Solus Christus (“Christ alone”), and Soli Deo Gloria (“To the Glory of God alone”).  We must remember that the Bible is our highest authority. That we are saved by faith alone. This faith is through grace alone. Christ is our only Lord, Savior, and King. And we must live our lives to the Glory of God alone. As Scripture refers to the Church as Christ’s bridegroom, we must remember that in sickness and in health, in wealth and in poverty, we have all that we need through Christ.

What is the Protestant Reformation?

While many people are prepping their costumes and candy buckets for Halloween, October 31st marks a significant day in church history. On October 31st, 1517, Martin Luther, a Roman Catholic Monk, nailed his 95 theses to the door of his church. Luther wrote these words out of a deep concern with the Roman Catholic Church’s view on several issues that Luther deemed unBiblical. His efforts led to what is now referred to as the Protestant Reformation. Christians now see October 31st as Reformation Day.

For the next couple of weeks, we’re going to look at the Reformation and how it impacts us today, 500 plus years later. First, let’s take a brief look at the historical context leading up to the Protestant Reformation. Much has been written on the Reformation, so allow me to give a short summary, specifically looking at Martin Luther’s role in the Reformation. Additional resources will be provided below.

Leading up to the 1500s, The Roman Catholic Church had substantially departed from the teaching of the Apostles recorded in the New Testament and heretical teachings were being promoted by monks all the way to the Pope.

In July of 1505, a young man named Martin Luther was on his way home when he was nearly struck by lightning. Seeing he was in the throes of death, he cried out “Help me, St. Anne! I will become a monk.” And so he did, abandoning his plans to become a lawyer. At 21, Martin Luther kept his vow from that stormy walk home and became an Augustinian Monk.

When Luther was given the tasks to lead in his first Mass, he was overcome by his sinfulness and God’s greatness. He was barely able to make it through Mass and considered running away from his duties in fear of again being confronted by a Holy God. But he kept to his commitment and continued on, despite the insistent reign of fear of God in his life. 

Luther was very much in tune with the depravity of his own soul, spending hours and hours in the confessional booth. He wrote later on in his life, “Though I lived as a monk without reproach, I felt that I was a sinner before God with an extremely disturbed conscience. I could not believe that he was placated by my satisfaction” (Selections, 12).

While Luther was deep in despair over his unworthiness, a close friend, Johannes von Staupitz, gave Luther several opportunities to teach from God’s Word and soon became a theological professor at Wittenberg University in Germany. It was through his preparations for his classes that the Holy Spirit struck the heart of the German monk and confronted him about his unrighteousness. It had been clear to this point that Luther despised all teachings on righteousness because he fully believed it was impossible to obtain it. It was here when he realized that righteousness comes by faith alone, Christ alone, for the glory of God alone.

This life changing gift of salvation spurred Martin Luther to eventually forsake the teachings of the Catholic church and stand firm to the teachings of Scripture. He proclaimed that justification came by faith alone in Christ alone and that no one deserved grace, let alone could earn it or pay for it. His teachings on the truth of Scripture caused an uproar within the Catholic Church, leading the Pope to admittedly deny Luther’s, and ultimately the Scripture’s, teachings as “A cesspool of heresies”. Luther didn’t care and stated as much when he nailed his 95 Thesis to the doors of his church.

Two great issues were at stake during the Reformation, justification by faith alone (sola fide) and the authority of Scripture alone in the life of the church and the believer (sola Scriptura). The efforts to return to the Apostolic teachings contained within the 66 books of the Bible was at the forefront of the Reformation. Men Like Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, and so many others wanted to see the church reformed or changed in such a way that tradition became secondary and God’s Word became primary.

Martin Luther was excommunicated from the Catholic Church and when asked to recant his teachings at the Diet of Worms in 1521, Martin Luther stated,

“If, then, I am not convinced by testimonies of Scripture or by clear rational arguments—for I do not believe in the pope or in councils alone, since it has been established that they have often erred and contradicted each other—I am bound by the Bible texts that I have quoted. And as long as my conscience is captive to the Word of God, I cannot nor do I want to retract anything when things become doubtful. Salvation will be threatened if you go against your conscience. Here I stand; I can do no other. May God help me. Amen.”

The life of Martin Luther and the men of the Reformation is a reminder that we too must stand firm on the teachings of God’s Word in the face of heretical malpractice and cultural denial. It is from God’s Word we know the universal need for salvation from God’s wrath and sin and it is from God’s Word we learn that this precious salvation comes to us through Christ and Christ alone. There is no other Savior. Here we stand.

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

What is Reformation Day? – ligonier.com

3 Things Every Christian Should Know About the Reformation. – thegospelcoalition.com

Here We Stood (a brief history of Martin Luther) – desiringgod.org

Luther at the Diet of Worms. – Crossway.org

The Reformation and your Church – 9marks.org (This is a Fall Journal loaded with great articles on the reformation. Save this link and read/watch/listen to everything that is included.)

Luther: The Life and Legacy of the German Reformer – Watch this documentary in its entirety to discover the events God used in Martin Luther’s life that led him to rediscover the gospel of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

Luther in Real Time – It’s 1520. Martin Luther has been declared a heretic by Pope Leo X, and his books are being burned. How much longer before Luther himself is thrown into the fire? Enter the German Reformer’s dramatic story with Luther: In Real Time. First released 500 years after the events described, this podcast allows you to walk in Martin Luther’s footsteps from his heresy charges to his famous stand for the authority of God’s Word at the Diet of Worms. Share this podcast with people of all ages so they can hear—in Luther’s own words—what Protestants are protesting and why it still matters today.

The Importance of Congregational Singing

Throughout church history, one of the primary elements of the gathered church has been to worship through music. Whether led by an organ, a piano, a band, or a cantor, to go to a Sunday gathering of the church and not participate in music in some form would be quite strange. Some point to handwritten collections of songs from the Middle Ages as the earliest types of hymnals, but these people forget an even earlier source: the book of Psalms! In fact, certain editions of the Bible make it clear that it’s actually a collection of five sets of songs (1-41, 42-72, 73-89, 90-106, 107-150). So why have these included in the Bible? What’s the big deal about singing?

We are commanded to sing.

Psalm 96:1-2 Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth!  Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.

The word sing appears in the scriptures over 400 times and at least 50 are commands. Singing is a uniquely human activity, and it connects our breath and body to the outside world in a way nothing else can. It does not matter how good we believe our voice is. Much like faith, it is the object of our singing, not the quality of the voice, that matters. Singing and music allows us to express something beyond just words. And imagine this scene from after the last supper:

Matthew 26:30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

The disciples are not professionally trained musicians. But under the leadership of Jesus, they sang together as an act of worship. So if we are to follow Christ’s example, then this practice of singing with His disciples is further proof of obedience to a command. We also know that singing will be part of our eternal lives, as shown in Revelation 5:11-13.

When we sing, we connect our hearts to deep theological truths.

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

It is no accident that singing is found in this list that begins with “let the word of Christ dwell in your richly.” Singing brings an aspect of memory that can help us align our hearts if those lyrics come out of the Bible (or at least Biblical truths). As we jump into the Romans 8 series, we are intentionally singing some songs that are Scripture passages set to music. How powerful to have these tunes playing in our heads and hearts as we go through the week!

When we sing, we connect to those we are singing with.

Ephesians 5:15-21 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 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.

Both this passage and the one from Colossians 3 have an important phrase- they both have an element of “one another.” Singing in a group is powerful, because it reminds us that we are not alone, and helps to draw our attention to God as the aim of our praises or pleas. There is value in music used for personal worship time, but the encouragement from the church raising voices together gives gusto to the soul and gladdens the heart. The passage here contrasts the goodness of music to the deceitful “pleasures” or the world. A heart brimming with joy for the Lord cannot help but express itself.

When we sing, we outwardly proclaim the truth of God’s Word.

Acts 16:25  About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.

Singing hymns and spiritual songs are a witness not only to the church but also to the outside world.  When our lives are filled with music that points us to Jesus, then when others enter into our lives, they cannot help but see how different and unselfish the music liturgy of the church is to most other music available. That doesn’t mean that we must go around and sing aloud in all of our daily tasks. But if we allow the music of God’s people to permeate our consciousness, then it will not be a surprise when you find yourself humming or singing quietly a song that orients your heart towards Jesus.

This is why we make singing a priority in our Sunday morning gatherings. We don’t pretend to be the best, but we bring our best in pointing to THE best, Jesus, our Lord and Savior. And when we consider His sacrifice for us, His love, His patience, His grace and mercy, how can we help ourselves but to sing? No matter how bad you may think your voice is, it is more encouraging to hear an authentic cry of praise than the most beautiful singing without knowing Jesus. Remember that our singing is not ultimately about us, but about God and how we can connect to Him and His people. So, sing! Sing to God! Sing to one another!

Love in Christ,

Pastor Ben

Redeeming the Sunday Morning Car Ride to Church

For close to seven years, my family drove in separate vehicles to our Sunday gatherings at Grace Life. I left early for setup and Julie came a little later with the kids. The roughly 20 minute drive was an opportunity for me to “preach” my sermon to the empty car and spend time in prayer. But that all changed when we moved into our new space. For the first time, my family rode together to church.

It took some time for everyone to get adjusted to our new routine. What I mean is, it took me a while to get adjusted to making sure the kids were ready to get out the door. It also changed the car rides for me. I was no longer a pastor headed to preach, I was now a dad taking his family to church. I had to repurpose our time in the car on Sunday mornings.

In Deuteronomy 6, the LORD tells his people the importance of keeping the truth of God’s words front and center and teaching them to your children.

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. [5] You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. [6] And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. [7] You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. [8] You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. [9] You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. – Deuteronomy 6:4–9

There’s a line here that’s relevant to this conversation: “When you walk by the way”.

In the Old Testament, people mostly walked when they needed to go somewhere. Today, we go places in our cars. No one, no matter how much they want to, can escape the moving car. The doors are locked and seatbelts are in place. It’s the perfect time to spend time in prayer and help your children love and value the local church gathering. You have an opportunity to prepare their hearts for church. Here’s what this can look like, but first, a few encouraging notes on “Ride to Church Discipleship”.

Anyone can do it. No matter how far along you are in your Christian faith, no matter how old your children are, and no matter if it is just you or just you and your spouse, anyone can participate in “Ride to Church Discipleship”.

Get your children involved. It’s easy to take charge of reading or praying, but reading isn’t advised while you’re driving. Getting your kids involved is easy and safe!

You only need a few minutes. Is your ride to church five minutes? That’s fine! You can accomplish “Ride to Church Discipleship” in just a few moments. Is it 20 minutes? That’s okay too! Find a landmark and begin “Ride to Church Discipleship” when you pass the landmark each week. This will also help establish a routine for your kids.

Here is what “Ride to Church Discipleship” looks like:

Have someone read the Scripture for the sermon.

Every week, we’ll share the text of Scripture for the next sermon so you can read ahead. (This coming Sunday’s sermon text is from Hebrews 11:23-30.) As a church, we gather together to hear God’s Word preached so we can know Jesus more and the power of His resurrection in our lives. Reading the Sunday morning text helps prepare our hearts for the gathering.

If you have a child who can read, have them read the text. The Bible is written in such a way that even new readers (with a little bit of help) can read. If the driver is the only reader, you can use the Bible Audio from The Bible App, read the text in the driveway before you leave, or when you are stopped at a red light. Even if your child is preschool or younger, reading Scripture to them is a great practice and the routine will be normal when it comes time for them to read.

 

Ask, “What are you most excited about gathering with the church this morning”?

It’s very easy to speak negatively about the church. It’s a tool the enemy uses and what he’s doing is using negativity about the church to bring disinterest to children. Many kids grow up to be non church attending adults because parents either spoke negatively about church or they didn’t make church a priority. Don’t let this be the case for your family. 

Talk to them about singing and praying and preaching and friendship. Explain the importance of the church as the people of God. Jesus did not establish the church for people to check off and check out. No, he wanted people to grow together in friendship and in their faith. Going all in in the life and mission of your local church is essential to the discipleship of your children.

 

Pray Together

Once again, have one of the kids pray and then follow it with a prayer of your own. Of course, praying with your eyes open is certainly acceptable! Be sure to pray for the preacher. (This week, pray for Lawrence Wilson as he preaches). Pray for our band as they lead us to sing to Jesus. Pray for their KidLife teacher. Pray for Grace Life Church. Pray for the Elders. Pray for people who the Holy Spirit places on your heart. Pray for missionaries around the world. The prayer doesn’t have to be perfect, but as we go by the way, we are showing our kids the importance of talking to God.

The car ride to church can be spent listening to the radio, sitting in quiet, playing with toys, watching videos on a device, or we can redeem those few minutes by spending time in prayer or disciplining our kids to love the church, the people whom Christ died for.

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


Sunday 10am | 3180 County Rd 220 Suite 1 Middleburg, FL 32068

© The Grace Life Church

Site By: OneEighty