Friday, December 24, 2010


Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown,
When Thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room
For Thy holy nativity.
Refrain: O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

Heaven’s arches rang when the angels sang,
Proclaiming Thy royal degree;
But of lowly birth didst Thou come to earth,
And in great humility.

The foxes found rest, and the birds their nest
In the shade of the forest tree;
But Thy couch was the sod, O Thou Son of God,
In the deserts of Galilee.

Thou camest, O Lord, with the living Word,
That should set Thy people free;
But with mocking scorn and with crown of thorn,
They bore Thee to Calvary.

When the heav’ns shall ring, and her choirs shall sing,
At Thy coming to victory,
Let Thy voice call me home, saying “Yet there is room,
There is room at My side for thee.”
My heart shall rejoice, Lord Jesus,
When Thou comest and callest for me.

The meaning of Christmas is bound up in a right understanding of the identity of Christ. As the Christmas hymn asks: “Who is He in Yonder Stall?” Who is He? The question is much more than an academic one. A person’s eternal destiny is bound up in a correct “heart-borne” response. Some say that He was a good man or a great prophet. But what do the Scriptures say? Who was the Christ child in the manger?

John 1:1-4, 14 speaks to His identity:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him…In Him was life, and the life was the light of men…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…”

He is the eternal Son of God and creator of all things. He left His throne and kingly crown when He came to earth for you. He came in great humility as a servant. His life was that of a servant from beginning to end. There was no room for Him in the inn. His cradle was a feeding trough; His grave was a borrowed tomb. He lived the life of a servant-- He had no wealth, no home, and no possessions. He received no welcome from the religious elite, indeed they sought His death. He ministered day after day to the needs of multitudes of people, but in the end they cried out “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” “And this is judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).

But there were those who did receive Him and there are those who will receive Him this very day. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12).

Have you any room for Jesus, He who bore your load of sin?

As He knocks and asks admission, Sinner, will you let Him in?

Room for Jesus, King of glory! Hasten now, His Word obey;

Swing your heart’s door widely open, Bid Him enter while you may.

Pastor Jerry

Wednesday, December 22, 2010



Col. 1:16 says of Jesus, "For by Him all things were created." This is an important truth to keep in mind as we sing the Christmas hymns.

Away in a manger no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus—the creator of all things—lay down His sweet Head. The stars—He created—in the bright sky—which He Himself created—looked down where He lay. The cattle—He created—were lowing.

How wide the gulf that spans His creation. Stars, light years away, shone from the expanse of heaven, down upon the lowing cattle in the lowly manger. That gulf in space was superceded only by the spiritual gulf that exists between the holy God and sinful man. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). In sin man is utterly divorced from God with no hope of reconciliation. No amount of religious effort or good intentions could ever bridge that gap.

Most people believe that good people go to heaven. The Scriptures say, “There is none who does good, not even one” (Rom. 3:12). Salvation is not something we do, but something God does for us. All we have to offer Him is brokenness and strife. He alone is able to make something beautiful of our lives.

The little Lord Jesus came to do what we could never do. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15). He came as the “Lamb of God” to take away “the sin of the world” (John 1:29). On the cross He “died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet. 3:18). He offers salvation to any person who will humbly place his or her faith and trust in Him. He alone is able to cause us to be born again and “fit us for heaven to live with Him there.”


Away in a manger,
No crib for His bed
The little Lord Jesus
Laid down His sweet head

The stars in the bright sky
Looked down where He lay
The little Lord Jesus
Asleep on the hay

The cattle are lowing
The poor Baby wakes
But little Lord Jesus
No crying He makes

I love Thee, Lord Jesus
Look down from the sky
And stay by my side,
'Til morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus,
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever
And love me I pray

Bless all the dear children
In Thy tender care
And fit us for heaven
To live with Thee there

Pastor Jerry

Monday, December 20, 2010



“One day when Heaven was filled with His praises, One day when sin was as black as could be”…It was indeed a dark day in the time before Jesus came. God’s chosen people, the Israelites, were held captive under the oppressive Romans. Sin had brought them to that place. God had privileged them beyond measure. To them belonged the “adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple services and the promises” (Rom. 9:4). But despite their privileges and blessings they forsook God and disobeyed His law. Their plight was according to God’s warning. 400 years of prophetic silence preceded Christ’s coming.

The estate of the Gentiles was, if possible, even worse. “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Rom. 1:21). Lost and exiled in sin, they had “no hope and (were) without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). It was indeed a sin-darkened and hopeless world.

But the prophets had spoken of one who would come to the rescue. “The people who walk in darkness” Isaiah declared, “will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them (Isa. 9:2). “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” was the cry of the prophets. They spoke of One:

Who would come and ransom captive Israel;

Who would come and disperse the clouds of night;

Who would come and make safe the way that leads on high.

The One of whom they spoke was a man, but no ordinary man. He was Emmanuel—“ God with us,” the promised Messiah, the Savior of all, who was born into this world some 2000 years ago.


O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Refrain: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory o'er the grave. Refrain

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight! Refrain

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery. Refrain

O come, O come, Thou Lord of Might,

Who to Thy tribes on Sinai's height
In ancient times didst give the law
In cloud, and majesty, and awe. Refrain

Pastor Jerry

Monday, November 22, 2010


Perhaps you have heard the advertisement for something called "The Total Transformation System." Its creator claims that it can somehow bring a rebellious and unruly child into quiet submission, with results experienced in as little as 30 minutes. Needless to say, I won't be buying his product. There is only one "Total Transformation System" and it belongs to God. It’s called the gospel.

Before we can appreciate the full measure of the gospel's transforming ability we need to appreciate the extent of man's sin problem. As a result of the fall every man is born a sinner (Rom. 5:19; Rom. 3:23). “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Man is helpful to resolve his sin problem (Rom. 5:6; Eph. 2:1).

It is also helpful, however, to our appreciation of the gospel's transforming power, to reconsider the events related to the fall of man. Adam and Eve were created in the "image" of God. What is meant by the term "image?" The meaning of the term and the results of the fall both help us to answer that question. According to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament the word "image" "basically refers to a representative, a likeness." There is a visual component to this definition. There was, for Adam and Eve, some visual correspondence to God. This understanding is affirmed by what happened to them after the fall. They saw themselves "naked" and took immediate steps to deal with the problem. What else could account for their nakedness, but the loss of some kind of God-imparted glorious covering?

Their response is instructive. They "sewed together fig leaves and made themselves loin coverings" (Gen. 3:7). Their man-devised response to their sin problem was the best that their sin-darkened minds could come up with. Their response is emblematic of all the misguided efforts of man ever since in dealing with sin. Fig leaves are no substitute for a God-imparted glorious covering. The religious efforts of an unredeemed man are "like a filthy garment" before God (Isa. 64:6).

God has a better way. "And the Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them" (Gen. 3:21). Two elements of this act are especially noteworthy: 1) God clothed them by grace. They didn’t come up with the plan. They expended no effort. They had done nothing to merit it; and 2) God clothed them through sacrifice. "He made garments of skin for Adam and his wife." These garments would have required a sacrifice, a sacrifice that looked to the future sacrifice of the Lamb of God. That covering was not the glorious one they had previously enjoyed, but it looked forward to a future one.

The gospel alone can restore unto man what was lost in the fall. "It is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes" (Rom. 1:16). The gospel saves "to the uttermost those who draw near to God" (Heb. 7:25). Through the gospel--through faith in Christ and His finished work on the cross--a person is forgiven, transformed, and set on a course to heaven. These things take place per God’s design--by grace, through sacrifice. This glorious gospel represents "the power of God and wisdom of God" (1 Cor. 1:22-24).

The gospel imparts no half-way salvation. It doesn’t just save a man from hell, it saves him to heaven. It doesn’t just clean up his behavior, it changes his heart. It doesn’t just make him a good churchgoer; it prepares him for Christ’s presence. It changes a man from the inside-out. It is a transformation from one state of glory unto the next: 2 Cor. 3:18, "But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit."

Christ's saving work is culminated in the glorification of the believer in Christ. Phil. 3:21: "(He) will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself" (Cf. Col. 3:4; 2 Cor. 4:17-5:4). It is this very work that is said to be "exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think" (Eph. 3:19-20).

Are you enrolled in God’s "Total Transformation System?" Have you trusted in Christ for salvation (Acts 16:31)? Fig leaf coverings and white-washed tombs are no substitute for the transformation empowered through the "glorious gospel of the blessed God" (1 Tim. 1:11). "To Him be the glory in the church to all generations forever and ever. Amen" (Eph. 3:21)!

Pastor Jerry

Monday, November 1, 2010


1 Cor. 15:3-4, “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.”

Gal. 1:7, “There are some…who want to distort the gospel.”

2 Cor. 11:4, “For if one comes and preaches…a different gospel…you bear this beautifully.”

The message of the gospel is the most glorious of truths. And because “it is the power of God for salvation to ever one who believes” (Rom. 1:16), it is the work of the Devil to oppose its proclamation in every possible way. He relentlessly works to distort the message, dissuade messengers, and deafen hearers.

The Apostle Paul reserved his most severe condemnation for those who would distort the gospel: “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8). Lest his readers underestimate his concern, he repeated himself, “ As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you have received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:9).

Nevertheless the gospel message is distorted in countless ways and counterfeits gospels are in wide circulation. In this day of diminished doctrinal emphasis and understanding it is getting harder and harder for believers to distinguish the genuine article.

The Father of Lies is a proficient distorter of truth. “Indeed, has God said?” he asked in his first deception. His temptations to our Lord were not with clearly identified falsehoods, but with subtle distortions of the truth (Matt. 4:1-11). It is a device of the Devil to dress up his deceptions in attractive and innocent looking garb (Eph. 6:11; 2 Cor. 2:11).

So it is with the gospel. Catholicism does not deny Christ and the cross, but the gospel is diminished and distorted in the sacraments. Mormonism acknowledges Christ, but not the Christ of the Bible. The modern evangelical church has its own distorted gospels. The believer needs to be able to discern the genuine article amidst counterfeits (1 Thess. 5:21).

Discernment is all the more necessary in this postmodern day. Most deny the existence of any absolute truth. Many believers give but lip service to the inspiration and inerrancy of God’s Word. “We preach Christ crucified” is not the anthem of the modern church. And gospel distorters find little resistance.

But in the midst of the darkness of our day, there are those who are gladly and accurately proclaim the “glorious gospel of the blessed God” (1 Tim. 1:11). And from time to time God opens the eyes of the blind to the truth. Praise God for the gospel and the salvation it brings! Let us always endeavor “to make it clear” (Col. 4:4).

Pastor Jerry


Charles Spurgeon,

"The greatest thing the church needs in this time, is God's Holy Spirit. You all get up plans and say, "Now, if the church were altered a little bit, it would go on better." You think if there were different ministers, or different church order, or something different, then all would be well. No, dear friends, the mistake does not lie there, it is that we need more of the Spirit- his power and influence. But now people are saying, "This must be altered, and that must be altered." But it would go no better unless God the Spirit should come to bless us. You may have the same ministers, and they shall be a thousand times more useful for God, if God is pleased to bless them. You shall have the same deacons, they shall be a thousand times more influential than they are now, when the Spirit is poured down upon them from on high. That is the church's great lack, and until that lack be supplied, we may reform, and reform, and still be just the same. We need the Holy Spirit, and then whatever faults there may be in our churches, they can never materially impede the progress of Christianity, when once the Spirit of the Lord God is in our midst. All we need is the Spirit of God.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Hebrews 13:9, “Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were thus occupied were not benefited.”

How strong is your heart? Arrays of forces work to weaken our determination. Sin failures, troubles, and trials work to reveal the tragic reality--we are weak in the flesh. As with the cowardly lion--who was fearful even of his own shadow--we are prone to grow pint-sized problems into super-size proportions. We are, by nature, timid of heart. We tend to fear even imaginary threats. Sinful temptations, and our propensity to fail, steal away our resolve. We can all relate to the words of the hymn:

“When we have exhausted our store of endurance,

When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,

When we reach the end of our hoarded resources.”

How can our hearts be strengthened? The context of our passage is noteworthy. False teachers were espousing the merits of legalism, in particular, the need to obey certain food laws. Legalism is best defined as a set of rules that are established and maintained in the attempt to earn merit before God. The problem with legalism is that it has no power over the flesh, as Paul clarified to the church in Colossae, “There are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence” (Col. 2:23). Our natural bent is towards legalism. Our typical response to fears and failures is to try harder to do better. The problem is that human resolve is not the answer. Instead we come to realize the truth found in Romans 7:18: “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of good is not.” No matter how hard we try, in the flesh, we fail (Cf. Zech. 4:6b). Self-effort works only to expose our weakness--”that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful” (Rom. 7:13). Legalism is no answer for “grace needy” hearts.

To be “strong and brave to face the foe” we need to be encouraged from a heavenly source. Grace is God’s unmerited favor. It is “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense” bestowed upon the believer in Christ. The Christian life is lived under an “umbrella of grace.” The believer in Christ is saved by grace, strengthened by grace, and sustained by grace. “But by the grace of God I am what I am” is the God-glorifying testimony of the right-thinking Christian (1 Cor. 15:10). Grace is bound up in the person and work of Christ: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). We have been made rich in His grace--it has been lavished upon us (Eph. 1:8).

God’s grace is sufficient to make courageous the feeblest of saints. Indeed, feebleness is essential to its provision. The heavenly stream of God’s provision flows freely from the throne of grace not towards the proud and self-sufficient, but to the humble (1 Pet. 5:5). To be made strong of heart we must first measure ourselves weak. The Apostle Paul faced a great trial. He asked God three times to remove it from him. God responded, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). Paul learned to be “well content,” and to “boast” in his weaknesses (2 Cor. 12:9-10). He understood the paradox: “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10).

“I will glory in my weakness, I will boast in Your might;

For I found in my weakness, That You will be the strength of my life.”

Inasmuch as there is no limit to the matchless grace of Jesus, there is no limit to His ability to strengthen our hearts. The believer derives his strength, not from human resources, but from a heavenly reserve of “pow’r than has no boundary known unto men.” Past and present failures are swallowed up in Christ’s victorious grace (Rom. 5:20). By His grace the Lord is able “to deliver (us) from every evil deed...and bring us “safely to His heavenly kingdom.” Apart from Him the believer can do nothing, but through His grace he can do all things (Phil. 4:13).

Indeed, that wonderful promise that declares that He is able to do “exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” is true because of His “power that works within us” (Eph. 3:20). Our hearts our strengthened not as we look to ourselves and what we can do, but as fix our eyes on the Courageous One who “endured the cross, despising its shame” (Heb. 12:2). He stands ready to strengthen us by His grace (Cf. Heb. 4:16). It is indeed good for the heart!

Pastor Jerry

Saturday, September 25, 2010


"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways," declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts."

Isaiah chapter fifty-five verses 8 and 9 are frequently cited in response to difficult theological questions (i.e. the nature of the trinity, etc). This is appropriate inasmuch as God’s thoughts and ways transcend man’s in every respect. A proper interpretation of the text, however, demands that we relate these two verses to their immediate context. The preceding verses speak to God’s ability to abundantly pardon repentant sinners. In their context verses 8 and 9 relate the higher thoughts and ways of God in relationship to this specific matter. God’s ability to abundantly forgive repentant sinners transcends our limited understanding of God’s thoughts and ways.

Adam and Eve were the first to experience the reality of this truth. Having sinned against God, they suffered immeasurable loss. They went into hiding and sewed fig leaves together to cover their nakedness. That was the best that their sin-stricken minds could come up with in dealing with their sin problem. They WOULD’VE NEVER THOUGHT that God Himself would intervene in a far better way. After detailing the full measure of sin’s consequence in the curse, God clothed Adam and Eve: "And the Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them" (Gen. 3:21). God Himself took the initiative, prepared garments, and clothed them.

The prodigal Son squandered his estate with loose living (Luke 15:13). Having lost everything "he was longing to fill his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating" (Luke 15:16). He finally came to his senses and decided to return to his father, thinking that at best, his father might forgive him and allow him to serve as one of his hired hands. HE WOULD’VE NEVER THOUGHT that his father would do what he ultimately did. While he was still a long ways off his father saw him and ran to him. Then he warmly embraced him, clothed him with a robe, a ring, and sandals, and prepared an elaborate feast to celebrate his return. The father’s abundant pardon was far beyond anything he would have expected.

Saul was a blasphemer, persecutor, and violent aggressor (1 Tim. 1:13). He persecuted "the church of God beyond measure, and tried to destroy it" (Gal. 1:13). He was "in hearty agreement" with the stoning to death of Stephen (Acts 8:1). WHO WOULD’VE THOUGHT that God could pardon such a man? Indeed, following Saul’s conversion, God had to convince the reluctant Ananias through a vision that he should receive Saul (Acts 9:15). God’s ability to abundantly pardon Saul was beyond what anyone would have thought. Paul’s own testimony is that he was saved, in part, to serve as an example to us of God’s ability to forgive even the worst of sinners: "And yet for this reason I found mercy, in order that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience, as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life" (1 Tim. 1:16). In other words, if God could save Saul, God can save anybody!

WHO WOULD’VE THOUGHT that God would send His only begotten Son into the world to die for our sins? What earthly intellect could have ever come up with such a plan? What earthly love would have ever brought it to pass? The plan of redemption was devised in the infinite mind of God! Nail pierced hands testify to its wisdom and power (1 Cor. 1:24)! The message of the gospel is akin to the message declared in Isaiah 55:8-9—God’s ability to abundantly pardon transcends our ability to perceive.

WHO WOULD’VE THOUGHT that God would abundantly pardon sinners such as you and I? We were once alienated from God—just like Adam and Eve; engaged in evil deeds—just like the prodigal Son; hostile in mind—just like Saul (Col. 1:21). "But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:4-7)."

The gravitational pull of sin-darkened thoughts tether our minds in countless Goddiminishing ways. The natural man does not understand the things of God, the born again believer understands them only by the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 2:12). The Spirit works to untether our earth-bound thinking that our thoughts might ascend to a higher and God-honoring plane (Eph. 3:16-19). Teach us thy ways, O Lord, help us to think your thoughts and walk in your ways!

Pastor Jerry

Sunday, September 19, 2010


From Chapter 17 of J. C. Ryle's book, "Holiness":

Do you know anything of spiritual thirst? Have you ever felt anything of genuine deep concern about your soul? I fear that many know nothing about it. I have learned, by the painful experience of the third of a century, that people may go on for years attending God’s house, and yet never feel their sins, or desire to be saved. The cares of this world, the love of pleasure, the ‘lust of other things’ choke the good seed every Sunday, and make it unfruitful. They come to church with hearts as cold as the stone pavement on which they walk. They go away as thoughtless and unmoved as the old marble busts which look down on them from the monuments on the walls. Well, it may be so; but I do not yet despair of anyone, so long as he is alive. That grand old bell in Paul’s Cathedral, London, which has struck the hours for so many years, is seldom heard by many during the business hours of the day. The roar and din of traffic in the streets have a strange power to deaden its sound, and prevent men hearing it. But when the daily work is over, and desks are locked, and doors are closed, and books are put away, and quiet reigns in the great city, the case is altered. As the old bell at night strikes eleven and twelve and one and two and three, thousands hear it who never heard it during the day. And so I hope it will be with many a one in the matter of his soul. Now, in the plenitude of health and strength, in the hurry and whirl of business, I fear the voice of your conscience is often stifled, and you cannot hear it. But the day may come when the great bell of conscience will make itself heard, whether you like it or not. The time may come when, laid aside in quietness, and obliged by illness to sit still, you may be forced to look within, and consider your soul’s concerns. And then, when the great bell of awakened conscience is sounding in your ears, I trust that many a man who reads this message may hear the voice of God and repent, may learn to thirst, and learn to come to Christ for relief. Yes, I pray God you may yet be taught to fed before it be too late!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


“What Are We To Do?”


1. It is natural for us, as believers, to be grieved by injustice and immorality.

2. How are we to respond? Fear, worry, and/or grumbling are not the answer. To what extent should we concern ourselves with politics and/or engage in political activism?

3. What is needful is a Biblical perspective leading to a God-honoring response that enhances, and does not undermine, our witnessing efforts.

4. God “works all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11). He is sovereign over rulers and governments. He is ultimately in control of the affairs of our lives (Matt. 5:25f; Phil. 4:6-7).

5. Our eschatological viewpoint will dictate, to some extent, the degree to which we concern or involve ourselves with political matters. A Biblical eschatology (pretribulational, premillenial) offers true Biblical hope and puts greater emphasis on the salvation of souls.


1. What is the purpose of the church?

2. The preeminent purpose and goal of the church is to glorify God. Note the three-fold doxology in Ephesians chapter 1 (1:6,12,14). The church glorifies God by its very existence, inasmuch as every member has been saved by His grace to His glory (Cf. 1 Tim. 1:11-17).

3. Two other concerns sum up the main purposes of the church: 1) the edification of the saints (Eph. 4:11-16); and 2) the evangelization of the lost (Matt. 28:18-19).

4. QUESTION: What are some of the other unbiblical purposes that churches sometimes mistakenly adopt?

5. When it comes to our relationship to our society and culture our mandate is to preach the gospel!


From the Screwtape Letters (C. S. Lewis). One demon’s advice to another: “Certainly we do not want men to allow their Christianity to flow over to their political life, for the establishment of anything like a really just society would be a major disaster. On the other hand we do want, and want very much, to make men treat Christianity as a means, preferably, of course, as a means to their own advancement, but, failing that, as a means to anything--even to social justice. The thing to do is to get a man at first to value social justice as a thing which the Enemy demands, and then work him on to the stage at which he values Christianity because it may produce social justice. For the Enemy will not be used as a convenience. Men or nations who think they can revive the Faith in order to make a good society might just as well think they can use the stairs of Heaven as a short cut to the nearest drug store. Fortunately it is quite easy to coax humans round this little corner. Only today I have found a passage in a Christian writer where he recommends his own version of Christianity on the ground that “only such a faith can outlast the death of old cultures and the birth of new civilizations.” Yet see the little rift? “Believe this, not because it is true, but for some other reason.” That’s the game.” Your affectionate uncle, Screwtape.”

1. Define the gospel (Cf. 1 Cor. 15:1-4).

2. From what does the gospel save (John 3:16; Acts 26:18; Rom. 6:23; 2 Thess. 1:8-9)? To what does the gospel save (John 1:12; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 2:20; 1 John 5:11-12)?

3. What are different gospels that are sometimes substituted for the true gospel (Gal. 1:6: 2 Cor. 11:4). Identify and describe each of the following: social gospel; easy believism gospel; health, wealth and prosperity gospel; works gospel; the gospel of liberation theology.

4. To what extent is the preaching of the gospel to pervade the ministry of the church (Matt. 28:18-19; Rom. 6:1-7; 1 Cor. 2:2; 1 Cor. 11:26; 15:1-4)?

5. Are there any NT verses that exhort us to attempt to change, by fleshly means, society or unbelievers? What instructions are given regarding our relationship with unbelievers (Rom. 10:1; 1 Cor. 5:10, 12; 1 Cor. 9:19; 1 Cor. 10:31-33; 1 Cor. 14:23-24; 2 Cor. 6:14; Gal. 6:10; Phil. 2:15; Col. 4:5; 1 Tim. 2:1-2, 3:7; 1 Pet. 3:15; Jude 23)? What chief concern should govern our relationships with unbelievers?

6. What are some of the different ways in which the church fulfills its mandate to preach the gospel?

7. To what extent, if any, can the church faithfully preach the gospel while simultaneously encouraging and promoting political activism? To what extent are the two endeavors mutually exclusive?


1 Tim. 4:10, “Because we have fixed our hope on the living God.”


· “Hope” in the New Testament is almost always from the Greek word “elpis” (Noun) or “elpizo” (Verb). The term refers to a “favorable and confident expectation.” The term, unlike our English counterpart, connotes no degree of uncertainty.

· The following survey of various usages reveals that which should be the object of the believer’s hope:


What our hope is not in…

· The hope of the believer is radically different than that of the unbeliever:

o Eph. 2:12, “Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ…having no hope and without God in the world.”

o 1 Thess. 4:13, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope.”

o 1 Pet. 3:15, “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”

· In this life only:

o 1 Cor. 15:19, “If we had hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.”

· In the uncertainty of possessions:

o 1 Tim. 6:17, “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.”

What our hope is in…

· The gospel, salvation:

o Col. 1:23, “If indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard.”

o 1 Thess. 5:8, “But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.”

· God, Christ:

o 2 Cor. 1:10, “He on whom we have set our hope.”

o Eph. 1:12, “We who were the first to hope in Christ.”

o 1 Thess. 1:3, “Constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ”

o 1 Tim. 1:1, “Christ Jesus, who is our hope.”

o 1 Tim. 4:10, “Because we have our hope fixed on the living God.”

o 1 Tim. 5:5, “Now she who is a widow indeed, and who has been left alone has fixed her hope on God.”

o 1 Pet. 1:21, “Your faith and your hope are in God.”

· Eternal life:

o Tit. 1:2, “In the hope of eternal life.”

· Heaven:

o Col. 1:5, “Because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.”

o Heb. 6:19-20, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us , having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

o Heb. 11:1, 14-16, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen…For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country not their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one.”

· Our inheritance:

o Tit. 3:7, “Having been justified by His grace, we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

o 1 Pet. 1:3-4, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

· Christ’s return:

o Tit. 2:13, “Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.”

o Phil. 3:20, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

o 1 Pet. 1:13, “Fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

o 1 John 3:2-3, “Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

· Culmination of God’s transforming work:

o Rom. 5:2-5, “We exult in the hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance, and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us.”

o Rom. 8:20-25, “For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for [our] adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”

o Col. 1:27, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

o Phil. 3:19-21, “…whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”

· Reunion of fellow believers in the presence of Christ:

o 1 Thess. 2:19-20, “For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? For you are our glory and joy.”


· 2 Thess. 2:15, “Who has…given us good hope by grace.”

· Heb. 7:19, “There is a bringing in of a better hope.”

· Tit. 2:13, “The blessed hope.”

· 1 Pet. 1:3, “A living hope.”


Three different prepositions are used to describe the relationship of our hope with regards to Christ The following has been gleaned from the Vine’s Expository Dictionary (p.311-312):

· The preposition eis is rendered “in” in 1 Pet. 3:5, “who hoped in God.” The “hope” referred to here is directed to and centered in the person of God.

· The preposition epi is typically rendered “on” or “upon.” E.g. Rom. 15:12, “Upon Him shall nations hope” (YLT). The “hope” referred to here expresses the ground upon which hope rests.

· The preposition en is rendered “in” or “within.” E.g. 1 Cor. 15:19, “we have hoped in Christ.” According to Vine’s “the preposition expresses that Christ is not simply the ground upon whom, but the sphere and element in whom, the hope is placed.” The form of the verb (perfect participle with the verb to be, lit., “are having hoped”) stresses the character of those who “hope,” more than the action; “hope” characterizes them, showing what sort of persons they are.”

Christ is the sole basis of our hope in every respect. Our hope is in Him (in His person). Our hope rests upon Him (in His work). Our hope is for Him (in His return). Our hope is Him (that we might be in His presence).


Four times in the NT the term “fix” or “fixed” is used to describe how we are to hope in the certain hope that has been established for us as believers:

· 1 Tim. 4:10, “Because we have fixed our hope on the living God.” The words “fixed your hope” translate the Greek “elpizo” (perfect, active, indicative).

· 1 Tim. 5:5, “Now she who is a widow indeed, and who has been left alone has fixed her hope on God.” The words “fixed her hope” translate the Greek “elpizo” (perfect, active, indicative).

· 1 Tim. 6:17, “Instruct those who are rich…not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty or riches, but on God.” The words “fix their hope” translate the Greek “elpizo” (perfect, active, infinitive).

· 1 Pet. 1:13, “Fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” The words “fix your hope” translate the Greek “elpizo” (aorist, active, imperative).

The believer is one who has already fixed his hope on the living God. In view of this, he is to take care lest he mistakenly fix his hope on earthly possessions. Ultimately, his hope is to be fixed completely on the grace to be brought to him at the revelation of Christ.