Pastor's Blog

Church Discipline

Posted under: Doctrine,Sin,The Church — by Richard Hensley

Consider this encouraging quote from Robert Murray M’Cheyne:

“When I first entered upon the work of the ministry among you, I was exceedingly ignorant of the vast importance of church discipline.  I thought that my great and almost only work was to pray and preach.  I saw your souls to be so precious and the time so short that I devoted all my time and care and strength to labor in word and doctrine.  When cases of discipline were brought before me and the elders, I regarded them with something like abhorrence.  It was a duty I shrank from and I may truly say it nearly drove me from the work of the ministry among you altogether.  But it pleased God, who teaches His servants in another way than man teaches, to bless some of the cases of discipline to the manifest and undeniable conversion of the souls of those under our care.  And from that hour a new light broke in upon my mind, and I saw that if preaching be an ordinance of Christ, so is church discipline.  I now feel very deeply persuaded that both are of God–that two keys are committed to us by Christ, the one the key of doctrine, by means of which we unlock the treasures of the Bible; the other the key of discipline by which we open or shut the way to the sealing ordinances of the faith.  Both are Christ’s gifts and neither is to be resigned without sin.”

May this be an encouragement and a reminder for all those who faithfully administer church discipline and a challenge for those who don’t.

 

 

Ministering in Our Community

Posted under: Christian Living,Evangelism,Missions,The Church,The Gospel — by Richard Hensley

I came across this encouraging video of Brian Dye and his ministry to an inner-community in Chicago.  The disciple of Christ will affect the community around him.  This is great evidence of one who is salt and light in his community.  Click Here to Watch the Video.

 

Excellent Message on Church Membership

Posted under: Christian Living,Doctrine,Scripture,The Church,The Gospel — by Richard Hensley

I am very please to recommend an audio presentation by Jonathan Leeman from Capitol Hill Baptist Church and Nine Marks Ministry.  It is the most concise, meaty, clear presentations on the importance of church membership that I have ever heard.  Jonathan Leeman has written two books on church membership, that are the source of this great message.  The first is The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love.  The second is a shorter version of the book entitled:  Church Membership,  To listen to the concise audio presentation on Church Membership by the author himself, click here.

 

Altering Worship Structures

Posted under: Christian Living,Doctrine,Holiness,Music,Prayer,Sin,The Church,The Gospel — by Richard Hensley

I was moved by a passage of Scripture in my daily reading today found in 2 Kings 16:10-20.  There we learn of Ahaz, the ungodly idolatrous King of Judah.  Ahaz was enamored by the altar in Damascus and asked his priest, Uriah, to copy what he saw there in the Temple of the Lord, in Jerusalem.  So, a syncretistic Ahaz altered the Temple that God designed and ordered meticulously.  All of this gives us a glimpse of the abomination of false worship and idolatry.  But it also gives us a tremendous warning against a casual approach to church worship structures.

 10 When King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, he saw the altar that was at Damascus. And King Ahaz sent to Uriah the priest a model of the altar, and its pattern, exact in all its details. 11 And Uriah the priest built the altar; in accordance with all that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus, so Uriah the priest made it, before King Ahaz arrived from Damascus. 12 And when the king came from Damascus, the king viewed the altar. Then the king drew near to the altar and went up on it 13 and burned his burnt offering and his grain offering and poured his drink offering and threw the blood of his peace offerings on the altar. 14 And the bronze altar that was before the LORD he removed from the front of the house, from the place between his altar and the house of the LORD, and put it on the north side of his altar. 15 And King Ahaz commanded Uriah the priest, saying, “On the great altar burn the morning burnt offering and the evening grain offering and the king’s burnt offering and his grain offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their grain offering and their drink offering. And throw on it all the blood of the burnt offering and all the blood of the sacrifice, but the bronze altar shall be for me to inquire by.” 16 Uriah the priest did all this, as King Ahaz commanded. 17 And King Ahaz cut off the frames of the stands and removed the basin from them, and he took down the sea from off the bronze oxen that were under it and put it on a stone pedestal. 18 And the covered way for the Sabbath that had been built inside the house and the outer entrance for the king he caused to go around the house of the LORD, because of the king of Assyria. 19 Now the rest of the acts of Ahaz that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 20 And Ahaz slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David, and Hezekiah his son reigned in his place.

How has God designed worship structures for the church today?  What is required in worship?  What is prohibited?  These are important questions of the day.  The Reformers often referred to two or three essential marks of a true or pure church: 1) Right preaching of the Word of God, 2) Right administration of the ordinances, and sometimes a third, 3) Right practice of church discipline.  It appears in our day that all three of these can easily be corrupted in order to accommodate the culture or increase interest and mitigate the offense of the Gospel.  We ought to beware of altering God ordained structures of worship.

 

Evangelizing Children

Posted under: Christian Living,Doctrine,The Church,The Gospel — by Richard Hensley

Grace Community Church, pastored by John MacArthur, has a very well thought out and helpful position paper on the evangelization of children.  It is worthwhile reading and considering this balanced view of how to deal with the difficult issue of childhood professions.  It seeks to help parents maintain a balance in encouraging the professions of faith in our children, while at the same time proceeding cautiously and not hastily granting assurance to a young child merely based on their profession.  Check it out: http://www.gty.org/media/pdf/Evangelizing_Children.pdf

 

Instruments in the Redeemers Hands

We are starting a series based on the seminar conducted by Paul Tripp and Tim Lane.  This seminar, which is available on DVD, is based upon Paul Tripp’s excellent book Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands.  Starting Sunday, October 16th, from 9:00 – 10:15 A.M., we will be sharing this material.  “The 12-session seminar applies the principles in the Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands Study Guide and offers an overview of the process of biblical change that will transform the way you think about helping others.”  The purpose of this time of training is to equip and edify the body of Christ at GTCC to be better able to minister to one another, to our families, and to other relationships, in a biblical Christ honoring way.  Each of us has struggles with relationships in some capcity and we need Christ, the Word of God, the Spirit of God and the manifestation of grace and truth in one another, in order to thrive in the complexeties of relationships.  You can order the study book here.  Hope to see you there!

 

Gospel Centered Marriage Conference

Posted under: Christian Living,Courtship,Marriage,Scripture,The Church,The Gospel — by Richard Hensley

Some families from the church are planning on attending this conference.  Here is some information if you are interested.  Some very good speakers and very good topics are planned.

Gospel Centered Marriages


Designed to bring parents and their marriage age children together to consider the biblical doctrine of marriage with the aim of God-centered marriages, this conference will seek to reset our thoughts about marriage and prepare the rising generation for marriages that glorify God.

While all family members are welcome, our main focus will be directed toward parents and their marriageable, unmarried children. We also recognize that parents should not wait until their children are old enough to marry to begin to prepare them, so we encourage whole families to participate in this exciting blend of lecture and fellowship.

We will cover the following subjects:

  1. Marriage as a the picture of the gospel
  2. The implications of the dominion mandate for marriage
  3. Protecting purity before marriage
  4. Marriage as the foundation for society and future generations – Leaving a legacy of freedom of one generation to the next
  5. The role of a husband
  6. The role of a wife
  7. How fathers should treat suitors
  8. How fathers should qualify suitors
  9. What is the role of love, romance, and emotions
  10. Principles of courtship versus the rules of courtship
  11. The differences between courtship, betrothal, and marriage (virgin, betrothed, marriage, widowhood). Biblical terminology regarding marriage.
  12. Equal yoking
  13. How to split a church through your courtship (the history of courtship and war) How many wars have been started through failed courtships gives insight on how explosive this can be. Enter with caution.
  14. What is your marriage teaching your children about marriage? Your marriage as preparation – modeling marriage is the best preparation
  15. Preparing a two-year-old for marriage
  16. Redeeming the time with your children
  17. What Christ and His Church have to do with earthly marriage
  18. How young men and women should treat one another in the church
  19. Courtship in the community – 1 Thessalonians 3 :Mind your own business
  20. How to talk to the couple, how should bystanders react, handling diversity, when you announce, when it is in process, when it ends
  21. Issues, concerns, and answers regarding early marriages
  22. Wedding ceremonies and covenants
 

Biblical Courtship Series, Pt. 2

Forgive for the delay in getting the second part of the Courtship series on the blog.  No excuses.  Here is the second installment.

 THE OBSTACLES TO GOD GLORIFYING MARRIAGES

 There are a number of obstacles to God glorifying marriages.  And since this should be the goal of parents for their children and young men and women, as they look to their future, we ought to look at some of these obstacles.

 Poor discipleship at home.  If children are not taught a biblical godly perspective on marriage and the roles of men and women in marriage, they are likely to fail. 

  1. Rejection of parental and godly authority, counsel, and wisdom.  A parent can train a child, teach a child, and correct a child, but the child may still reject this means of God’s grace.  And sadly, rebellion of God’s ordained means of protection and grace has led to many less than God glorifying marriages.
  2. The neglect by parents to guide and protect their children through the process of preparing for marriage.  Father’s and Mother’s who leave the process of finding a spouse solely up to their older children, with little input and accountability, cannot expect good things to happen.  God has designed parents to give godly counsel, accountability, and protection during this time.
  3. All of this has led to worldly modern practice of Recreational Dating.
    a.  We have accepted this practice hook line and sinker.
    b.  It is probably not coincidental that as sexual immorality, cohabitation, and divorce have sky rocketed, along with the practice of Modern Recreational Dating.

 LET’S START WITH OUR VIEW OF GOD AND HIS WORD

 We have to start with a right view of Scripture.  Without a foundation, we have no basis to make decisions and live our lives.  We will be, as the title of one book suggests, like the relativist with our feet firmly planted in mid-air.

  1.   God is sovereign and we are submitted to His authority (Matt 11:28-30; James 4:7; 2 Cor 10:5; Rev 4:11).  If we cannot understand God’s authority, then we will not understand his delegated authority to parents.
  2. His Word is authoritative and sufficient (2 Tim 3:16-17; 2 Pet 1:3-4; Luke 16:31).  If we believe this to be true, then it should drive us to God’s Word to address all issues, especially the issue of marriage and preparing for marriage.

 MODERN DATING IS UNWISE AND PERILOUS

Modern Recreational Dating: The process of engaging in relationships with the opposite sex for mutual enjoyment, without parental involvement, with the hope that a suitable marriage partner will one day be found.

Is Modern Recreational Dating Biblical?

  1. At best, modern dating is biblically unwise.  At worst it is plain rebellion.
  2. “But, I know many people who have good marriages who have dated!”
    a.  First, you do not know their private details, stories, and regrets.
    b.  Second, surviving a process does not necessitate commending the process.

1)  Children have survived broken families, but we don’t commend them.
2)  People have survived airplane crashes, but as Douglas Wilson illustrates, we don’t commend flying on poorly maintained aircraft.

So, whether by ignorance, or clear-minded stubborn choice…there is little to commend Modern Dating, biblically.

NEXT ENTRY:  Part 3: What is so wrong with Modern Dating?

 

Songs and Singing

Posted under: Christian Living,Music,The Church,The Gospel,Unity — by Richard Hensley

I was struck once again by the importance of music and particularly singing in the Bible.  God appointed Levites to the religious vocation of “singing”.  A quick concordance search for “singers” finds 31 occurrences in the Bible, primarily in the Old Testament.  Read on your own, especially in 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah of the prominence and importance of singing in public worship settings.  I especially love the picture of the two choirs on the walls celebrating the completion of the walls around Jerusalem in Nehemiah. 

Songs are also commonly seen in the Bible in various forms, as expressions of worship in a variety of emotions, the majority of which is praise.  Again, a quick concordance search finds 81 occurrences of “song” in the Old and New Testaments.  As we consider our lives congregationally together, let us lean in to the songs that we sing…expressing truths from the depth of our souls.  Let us be deliberate and purposeful about the kinds of songs we sing at church, in our homes, and even on our IPODS and MP3 players.  Let God be praised in our songs, let His Church be taught be songs, and let the Chuch be encouraged and strengthened through the God ordained means of music.

As I was reading Ephesians 5 to my children the other night, during Family Worship, I was reminded of the importance of songs even in our day to day relationships.  The epitome of right relationships, spiritually strong relationships, are those in which song and poetic expression is a part.  Rich, full, meaningful joy in life is not found from substances, nor enthralling entertainment experiences, but our sweet communion together around the truth in creative and musical expressions:

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.
(Ephesians 5:15-21 ESV)

 

Concern for Spiritual Health

Posted under: Christian Living,Holiness,The Church,Trials,Unity — by Richard Hensley

I recently taught from 1 Thess 3:1-5 and was moved by the Apostle Paul’s deep concern for the spiritual health of the Thessalonians.  This is a challenge to all of us to not take the spiritual health of one another for granted.  Below is the outline of the message. 

1 Thess 3:1-5
Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, 2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, 3 that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. 4 For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know. 5 For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain.

Many of us have had loved ones that have had major health issues.  Health issues imply a sense of urgency and command action and response.  We all respond that way when someone’s health is at risk.  But how do we respond to the spiritual health of people that we know?   The Apostle Paul models again for us the heart of God in this matter.  He reveals to us that we are called to have a deep concern for the spiritual well-being of believers we know.  Our heart should ache to do everything we can to help fellow believers stay on course in their walk.  Maybe we don’t need life flight to tend to the spiritual slide of a follower of Jesus, but we should have a sense of urgency.  A strong burden to want to do what we can to lift our brothers and sisters up.  To see them plant firmly in good soil.  In our passage today (1 Thess 3:1-5), we will look at Paul’s model.  We’ll discover that a deep concern for the spiritual well-being of believers, first, compels one to action.  Second, a deep concern for the spiritual well-being of believers compels one to protect their faith.

 I.      A deep concern for the spiritual well-being compels one to action. (1 Thess 3:1-2)

A.  This deep concern causes a crisis in our hearts.  It should be consuming interest.

  1. Paul and his team could no longer endure being uninformed about the spiritual health of the Thessalonians.
  2. Most people have some kind of interest that they always look forward to practicing.  For some it is music, reading, woodworking, fishing, swimming, shopping, rebuilding engines, golf, you name it.  A deep concern for others should be an all consuming interest.  When we wake up we think about it.  When we go through our day we can’t stop thinking about it.  This is God’s heart. 
  3. This tension should compel us to respond.
    1. Though physically separated, Paul’s team is compelled to respond.

a)    It appears that Paul and Silas stay in Athens (thought well to).

b)    Paul sends the highly qualified Timothy as his delegate.

(1) Timothy’s credentials are solid.

C.  Do you have anybody on your heart that you feel compelled to respond to? 

I.  A deep concern for the spiritual well-being of believers seeks to protect their faith. (1 Thess 3:2-4)

A.  Protecting a believer’s faith involves shoring up their foundation to withstand trials.

  1. Timothy is sent to shore up the Thessalonians’ foundation of faith. 

a)    Strengthening involves finishing the foundation begun by the Apostles.  The focus is more on the instruction.

b)    Encouraging involves strengthening through relationships and coming along side.  It’s what Paul has done throughout this letter.

c)     The focus of the encouragement is for the benefit of the faith of the Thessalonians.

2.  The purpose of this foundation is to prevent a fall amidst trials.

a)    Paul is concerned because of the affliction the Thessalonians face.

b)    Where do falls come?  A poor foundation in both the Word and in meaningful relationships.  There is no substitute for biblical instruction, mentoring, and friendships in the Church.  The number one reason people return to Church…relationships (vital relationships).

B.  Protecting a believer’s faith involves helping others to understand right doctrine.  This is actually an example of strengthening their faith.

  1. Persecution is a normal part of the Christian life.

a)    “You, yourself know” is an emphatic statement meaning “you know better”.

b)    “We are appointed” ties affliction to our Christian walk.

c)     The implication: Experience of persecution and suffering should strengthen, not weaken one’s commitment to Jesus.

      2.  We could all think of some other doctrines that could help to protect a believer’s faith.  Here the emphasis is on the doctrine of the place of       
              suffering in the Christian’s life.

C.  Protecting a believer’s faith requires knowing their spiritual health (1 Thess 3:4-5).

  1. Paul was the primary source of impatience in his desire to minister to the Thessalonians.
  2. Paul sent to “know of their faith” or faithfulness.
  3. Paul’s deepest concern was the spiritual warfare being waged against them.

a)    Paul’s concern is that his “labor” or “toil” would be in vain.

b)   We see the same anxiety in 2 Cor 11:28-29:
 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?

 Conclusion:
1.  Paul models once again the heart of God. 

2.  Paul isn’t just a model…he instructs us as he does the Thessalonians.  His anxiety over the potential failure of this Church should cause us to heed very closely.  Do not take your faith for granted.

3.  Think of one person that you can help in protecting their faith.  Then, think of what you can do yourself to protect your own faith. 

 

 
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